A unified network is vital for the digital transformation of care homes. Many care homes find themselves overwhelmed by the creep of multiple connectivity networks and systems within the care home, and many of these carry out similar functions which can be catered for by care home WiFi.
So as more and more technology and digital services come online, the cacophony of telephony and wireless systems is at risk of getting even worse.
Care homes use all manner of different systems. For nurse call alerts, pagers fall detection and prevention. As well as for phone systems, CCTV, billing systems, security alarms and care home WiFi. All this comes with a host of security, reliability and IT management implications. Installing cables for multiple systems can be expensive and very disruptive. There’s also the risk of interference with various wireless networks.
The solution is to have a unified network. This enables care homes to run a wide range of “technology-enabled care” (TEC) solutions. A unified network manages and monitors all the different wireless services found in the care home. When installed correctly, it is scalable and robust.
So Why is it So Rare to Find Fit-for-Purpose Care Home WiFi in 2019?
In our experience, there are two key reasons why care home WiFi isn’t more widespread:
- Perceived cost
- Lack of understanding
The Perceived Cost of Care Home WiFi
To install a unified network doesn’t need to be a significant outlay. While some providers will require a capital investment, Vital WiFi offers care home WiFi as a complete system on a modest “per resident” or “per access point” monthly charge. This can be funded from operational budgets (‘Op-Ex’). A significant benefit is that care home clients get ongoing monitoring and maintenance support with Vital WiFi’s Senior Connect package giving complete peace of mind.
Lack of Understanding
Too many institutions, care home WiFi is about surfing the internet, accessing emails and watching Netflix. Having robust coverage isn’t always seen as a priority for residents by care home managers. However, this is a misconception. Care home WiFi needs to be viewed as a necessary utility which enables a host of mission-critical services. If having no internet connectivity is compared to having no running water, then providing weak WiFi signal, low internet speed, and limited network capacity is like having lukewarm instead of hot water: it’s unacceptable.
But Why So in a Care Home?
Social isolation is a major problem for elderly residents. Studies show that loneliness is as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and has a higher risk of fatality than obesity or lack of exercise. Providing the elderly with access to the internet could give them the socialisation they need to remain healthy and happy.
Access to The Internet Can Help Reduce Such Isolation
Residents can use accessible care home WiFi to communicate with family and friends using video chat (like Skype) or social media, or access online befriending services.
Having “senior-friendly” services and always-on accessible WiFi, that residents can use in their rooms or apartments, is key to combating loneliness. Many care homes have great successes with voice apps via Amazon’s Alexa, which requires WiFi as a prerequisite. Residents can use their voice to get Radio 4, be reminded to watch their favourite TV programmes, and control the heating and lighting.
A unified network can also provide valuable access to entertainment, such as streaming new movies or watching old classics on Netflix or catch-up TV.
But care home WiFi is about more than just residents’ and their guests’ use. It enables care homes to run highly efficient and productive systems such as People-Centred Software’s app-based care monitoring.
Having a robust network of wireless access points across the care home doesn’t just make life simpler. It is safer, more efficient and provides a better quality of life for residents.
The sad reality is that the many innovative services now available for care homes cannot be deployed due to poor internal network infrastructure found in the majority of care homes.
Enable Delivery of Digital Care
Putting a robust unified WiFi network in place isn’t just about improving residents’ quality of life. It is an enabler for the delivery of digital care which is being mandated throughout the NHS and which inevitably impacts on care homes.
So care homes should consider what infrastructure they require to cater for enabling innovations and what the implications may be if they are not able to do so.
SeniorConnect is a WiFi network management system and service from Vital WiFi designed to run care homes’ WiFi distribution needs and enable it to use a wide range of digital services. It can be configured to ensure 100% coverage across the premises (both inside and out) so that all staff and residents can access the internet on different devices for different purposes. Where there are mission-critical services, SeniorConnect can ensure sufficient bandwidth is always reserved for those. If an access point fails, the SeniorConnect system will alert Vital WiFi to the issue, and it can be rectified immediately with remote access. A separate channel can be reserved for guests’ use which won’t interfere with other users’ or services’ needs. A ‘personal area network’ (PAN) can be assigned for each resident, providing them with privacy and security.
The cost of not having a robust WiFi network can be considerable, longer-term, as more and more residents (and their families) expect reliable and consistent WiFi. And as innovative digital care services become more mainstream, care homes without a unified network will be lagging behind their competitors and may find it harder to attract new residents as they find they cannot reliably use what will become the default technology.
To install a unified network doesn’t need to be a significant investment. While some providers will require a capital investment, Vital WiFi offers a complete system on a modest “per resident” or “per access point” monthly charge which can be funded from operational budgets. A significant benefit is that care home clients get ongoing monitoring and maintenance support with Senior Connect, so you are having complete peace of mind.
Get a Site Survey
The first step is to have a site survey which reveals exactly what your requirements are, what you can do with it, what it costs, and how quickly it can be installed.
SeniorConnect is a managed WiFi system that requires little or no upfront investment and can be funded from the operational expenditure.
To apply for a free WiFi Site Survey & Assessment Report, contact Vital WiFi on:
t: 0333 3583111