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.