May 24, 2021

What is an acceptable response time to a call bell?

ASCOM Article 3 hero

For many, the issue touches on a familiar tension between the importance of meeting a resident’s immediate needs, and the ever-growing demands placed on staff in aged care.

Answers vary across different healthcare settings, but as a snapshot, a study of four US hospitals found patients expected their call to be answered within 4 minutes, while the average length of time to answer a call bell was 3.57 minutes in the daytime and 3.42 minutes in the night-time.

Barriers to quick call bell response times

Carers and nurses often face significant barriers to answering call bells in a timely manner.

Frequent calls can create a backlog of tasks, which places pressure on each person’s workload and affects responsiveness. It can be difficult to prioritise urgent requests when multiple alarms go off, as carers often don’t know the nature of the call they are attending to.

Lack of staff is also a significant problem facing Australia’s residential aged care facilities.

Working together as a team, the study authors concluded, enables staff to respond to call bells faster. If staff can communicate with each other more easily, it can help prevent calls from inadvertently slipping through the cracks.

Solving the problem with technology

One way to overcome barriers to fast call bell response times is streamlining workflows through digital technology.

Healthcare solutions provider Ascom Australia is helping facilities better support their staff through an innovative platform that combines a call bell system with mobile technology.

The Resident Response and Nurse Call System helps reduce response times by enabling carers to answer calls much more efficiently, no matter where they are.

If someone is unable to respond to an alarm – perhaps they are in the middle of an urgent job, or unable to leave a resident unattended – the call is automatically rerouted to a colleague.

Ascom’s technology also seamlessly adapts to a range of care environments. Filtered and discreet alarms reduce ambient noise, which promotes a more home-like setting for residents. Wearable tracking units and wander management systems are available to protect residents without hampering their freedom of movement.

For larger homes and multi-site care facilities, the Advanced Resident Response and Nurse Call system integrates with EMRs and other third-party systems. This allows useful data to be gathered and analysed to generate resident insights for carers and clinical teams.

As expectations for call bell response times remain high, the industry needs solutions that better support our carers and nurses on the ground-level. Advances in communication technology has a lot to offer, both for staff and the residents they care for.

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  1. At the nursing home where my mum is at, PCWs usually take about 5 or more minutes to answer a call bell. However what usually happens is they turn off the bell, and say they won’t be long, just attending to someone else, be back soon, then disappear. Some forget to come back, some take more than an hour to come back. Management tell residents if that happens they are to press the buzzer again, but mum has mild dementia so it’s hard to make her understand, and some PCWs have threatened to take her buzzer away if she keeps pressing it.Call times are monitored by management, but they don’t get a true indication of call times when buzzers are turned off without actually attending to the residents needs.

  2. My husband needs two carers and a stand up lifter to transfer him to the toilet. One carer arrives after 5 minutes, but then she has to call for another carer which can take another 10 minutes, and then 5 minutes to move him with the lifter, so 20 minutes has passed and he has lost the urge to go.

  3. Hi how is key information provided with each alert? this may help staff prioritise their response times but i cant understand how the system would determine that?

  4. Let me tell my recent unbelievable experience at Mercy Place east melbourne re the bells. My family member welfare and health deteriorated rapidly once he became a residential cate recipient. His bell did not work for two days And I was told that all the bells were not working on the second floor. When I suggested that if newspapers found out about this it would make headlines. His bell was working within the hour! Mercy place east melbourne Ceo and the General nurse manager are two persons who abused their power and ate certainly persons who are just not suitable to be working in aged care because of their vindictive and cruel conduct towards my family member who was a level 4 care needs His mind and speech no problems physically he was practically quadaplegic and had swallowing difficulties. He had indwelling catheter and mercy place east did not provide any clinically experienced nursing care . He was neglected and he was denied visits by me his family member, friend and long time primary carer.
    I intend to make known my experience with the abuse of power by the CEO and the General Nuser manager blot show that both are unsuitable to be working in aged care due to their conduct resulting in gross neglect of car


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