Dignity Can’t Exist Without Independence

boyontoilet

Dignity at All Ages

It’s never cool to walk in on someone when they’re going to the bathroom. Even when that someone is 5. And you’re there to, you know, help. I have learned this the hard way. If a door is closed, knock. Dignity is important, even to a 5 year old.

Kids can teach you a lot about the value of dignity. And privacy. And independence. Further proof, if we needed it, that people don’t really change all that much when they get older. Their abilities may evolve, or in some cases devolve, but the need for autonomy remains the same. Dignity simply can’t exist without independence. It’s a fundamental component of happiness, whether you’re 5 or 95, and research supports this claim. Studies have repeatedly shown that maintaining independence is a primary goal and concern from many seniors.

Avoiding Dependence on Caregivers

A senior who enters an assisted living facility has been dressing himself and preparing his own meals his entire adult life. Slowly, however, with the well-intentioned care of an attentive staff, those tasks are taken over for him. Someone else pours his coffee, ties his shoes, and tells him when he can and can’t go out for a walk. All of this help can lead to helplessness.

Helpless Adult

Art Carr, Founder and President of Progressive Retirement Group, put it this way in a recent blog on the Senior Housing Forum: “…the cumulative effect of family, friends and/or healthcare professionals telling the senior that they CAN’T or SHOULDN’T continue doing specific tasks (e.g. laundry, yard work, cooking) and/or caregivers taking over responsibility for these functions weighs on the individual.  Ultimately, they’ll give in and become dependent on the caregiver – EVEN WHEN THEY COULD STILL DO IT THEMSELVES!”

Technology Aids Independence

Tel-Tron develops its products with independence in mind. We want your residents to maintain their independence and dignity for as long as possible. When technology is subtle and unobtrusive, it fits into a resident’s lifestyle, providing solutions that preserve privacy and enhance the assisted living experience. Tel-Tron’s Life-Safety products offer a wide range of customizable solutions to meet the needs of your Senior Living/Assisted Living facility, including:

Resident Check-In devices for Independent Living without intrusive staff checks.

Push-button call stations that blend in with the surrounding decor.

Incontinence alerts that provide silent alerts to caregivers.

Wearable wireless pendants for mobile, independent residents.

Automated wander-prevention solutions to reduce elopement risk.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss how Tel-Tron can keep your residents safe while maintaining their dignity.

Troubleshooting 101: Solving Tel-Tron Problems Pragmatically

Tel-Tron Troubleshooting 101

There’s really not a special, magical process for troubleshooting your Tel-Tron system. In fact, the same troubleshooting steps used to do so can be applied to solve a variety of day-to-day problems. This month, I’m going to show you how to apply the same steps to troubleshoot two entirely unrelated problems.

Step #1: Verify the problem

dinner party

Problems have a tendency to initially appear worse than they really are. Should one arise, it’s up to you to determine the scope. Once you know what that is, it will make solving the problem much easier.

How this relates to real life:

Let’s say you’ve just held a wonderful dinner party for you and six other friends. Everything has gone just swimmingly. You drank, told tales, and were, by and large, merry. The evening concludes, everyone goes home, and you praise yourself with a mental tip-of-the-hat to your excellently hosted feast. Job well done! But the next day, the rumors begin to circulate. Someone at your party suffered some pretty severe indigestion. You could just ignore these rumors, but that’s probably not a good idea. Your inquisitive nature and your reputation force you to investigate.

Where to start?man with belly ache

Find the source of these rumors, trace them to the alleged inflicted person, and talk to that person directly. Keep the questions simple. “Hey, were you feeling sick after dinner yesterday?” If so, make sure it’s not because of something obvious and unrelated, like getting mild food poisoning from a fast food restaurant they stopped at on the way home because they found your dinner to be “insufficient.”

How this relates to Tel-Tron:

Let’s say you use pagers. Ah Pagers… This mobile notification device gets passed around from person to person more than any other device except, perhaps, staff reset pendants. Lots of different people use them, and the devices see use pretty much from dusk ‘til dawn, then all through the night. Given this high amount of usage, there’s a much better chance of an individual pager failure than there is of system-wide pager system problem. If you begin to hear rumors that your paging isn’t working, my recommendation is not to leap to the conclusion that your paging system is down. Instead, start simple. Track down the person with said non-functioning pager, and verify the problem. Is that pager really not getting pages? Maybe we have a training opportunity here. If it’s really not though, determine if the solution isn’t something simple, such as replacing a low battery–the most common reason for a pager not getting a page.

Step #2: Start gathering more data

A single sample doesn’t tell you a whole lot. What’s one poisoned friend or one bad pager? Certainly not an epidemic! Let’s make sure though. It’s time to investigate further.

How this relates to real life:

Alright, the rumors appear to be true. Your friend has just confirmed that shortly after leaving your party, he came down with a debilitating sickness that has shaken the very fabric of your friendship—and no it wasn’t from a drive-by Taco Bell visit on the way home. Don’t panic. As already noted, it’s just one friend. There’s a good chance your other friends are fine, and that would still leave you with five, which is a pretty good ratio of healthy friends. Still, best make sure this isn’t a widespread problem. Start calling around. Find out who else may be affected, and if so, what he ate. Make some lists. This guy ate this. Did he feel OK? This guy ate that. How’s he feeling? And so on.

How this relates to Tel-Tron:

You’ve found one pager that’s not working, but that doesn’t mean your “paging system is down.” Don’t panic. It’s just one pager. There’s a good chance your other pagers are fine, and that would leave you several other good pagers. (Unless you only have one pager, then don’t panic, but contact us to get you a rush-order on some new pagers.) Still, if that pager isn’t working, gather it from the staff member using it – it’s not doing any good with her anyway if it’s not getting any pages – and start hunting around for another. Find out: are all my pagers affected? If so, which ones?

Step #3: Form a hypothesis

Troubleshooting’s close cousin is the Scientific Method. So yes, you may call yourself “a scientist.” At this step in the troubleshooting process, you hypothesize, based on collected data, a reason for the problem at hand.

How this relates to real life:

You’ve called everyone at the party and discerned that two others had similar indigestion. Not too shabby. You know, for example, that you didn’t poison everyone, so at least one of your dishes was edible. Nicely done! Now to figure out which dish was the culprit. You had a lot of options, but all of your collected data seems to point to the chicken salad. You didn’t have any of it yourself because there was just so much food, and your buddy brought a nacho platter. You just couldn’t resist nachos so you filled up on that and, well, long story short: you didn’t have any chicken salad, and you’re not sick. In fact, the only three people who got sick are also the only three people who ate the chicken salad. Hypothesis: It was the chicken salad, in the dining room, with the salmonella.

biohazard chicken salad

How this relates to Tel-Tron:

You’ve searched around and discovered that two other pagers are also not receiving pages. This is important, because if any one pager gets a page, you know that the “paging system” is not down. The pager transmitter—often called a pager base—has a fire-and-forget mentality. It’s told to send a page, it sends the page, and it doesn’t keep track of which pagers got the page. If, while testing your pagers, even one pager worked, you can be confident that the pager transmitter has done what it was supposed to do. It transmitted. Hypothesis: The “paging system” is fine. You’ve just got three misbehaving pagers.

Step #4: Test and verify your hypothesis

You’ve formed a hypothesis, now it’s time to put it through the wringer.

How this relates to real life:

You’re gripped with this notion that your age-old family recipe for chicken salad has somehow led to a disastrous after party for several of your friends. You have to know for sure. Was it indeed the chicken salad? The only way to find out, obviously, is to have a sample tested. Go home, collect it in a bag and send it off to the crime lab. You know, that crime lab everyone has access to that’s just readily waiting to vindicate poor hosts from harsh accusations of food poisoning? That’s what THIS troubleshooter is recommending. Expect results in six to eight weeks. However, for the sake of fully disclosing ALL of the troubleshooting options, there might be a simpler way. Not that I’m recommending it. You know that annoying guy, the one always sniffing around at lunch looking for freebies? Ask him if he’d like some chicken salad. Homemade. Very fresh. Made just last night.

How this relates to Tel-Tron:

You’ve done some excellent trouble shooting and data collection to this point. As a practicing scientist, you’ve narrowed the problem down to three pagers that seem to be acting up. You’ve also prevented a wide-spread panic by proving that the “paging system” isn’t “down,” but in fact, you’ve just got some bum pagers.
Call tech support!Still, there are a few more things to test. A lot of communities use what’s called “mapping,” so it’s a good idea to double check settings. I’m not going to go into all that here. You’ve done quite a bit of heavy lifting already. Let us help you with this last step. If you’re not sure how to check a pager’s settings, give Technical Support a call. Best case scenario, we’ll get these pagers working! Worst case, we’ll simply re-verify the work you’ve done and come to the same conclusion you have: three bad pagers. While perhaps inconvenient that you’ve got some broken pagers, you should still feel good that you’ve got a handle on things. You figured it out! And you did this all while carrying the soul-crushing guilt of poisoning your friends with bad chicken salad. Well done!

Meet Quality Assurance Engineer Ed Otero

Ed Otero - Tel-Tron Quality Assurance Engineer.

Tel-Tron is constantly developing and delivering new and improved products to help senior living companies and the seniors they serve. An extremely important part of the product development process is ensuring the design meets Tel-Tron’s high standard for quality.

Ed Otero is Tel-Tron’s Quality Assurance Engineer, responsible for final testing and validation of new and existing product designs before they become actual products. Ed has been working with healthcare technology since 1986, involved in installing, maintaining, and testing of systems within hospitals and residential communities.

“I have always kept in the front of my mind that any and all products I touch could at any point in time be used to save someone’s life. This is the reason I have always taken extra care and pride in making sure that what I work on is tested and retested.”

Ed understands the negative impact a product defect can have on community operations and seniors’ lives. “I have always kept in the front of my mind that any and all products I touch could at any point in time be used to save someone’s life,” says Ed. “This is the reason I have always taken extra care and pride in making sure that what I work on is tested and retested.” 

Ed works diligently testing a Tel-Tron wireless transmitter

Ed works diligently at testing a Tel-Tron wireless transmitter

During the testing process, no product is released until it has passed every single test from start-to-finish and the product development team, including Ed, is satisfied that the product is worthy of release. “The tests are numerous and repetitive, and we push our products to the max to ensure that we are delivering only quality products,” Ed says. “I’m very proud to be a member of the Tel-Tron team and knowing that I am doing my part ensuring that every product that touches my hands or goes out the door could be responsible for saving someone’s life.”

ALFA 2012: Sharing Inspiring Stories of Dignity and Respect in Aging

Sharing Inspiring Stories of Dignity  and Respect in Aging

ALFA does a superb job at bringing important senior living issues to the forefront, but none may be as touching or as relevant to the purpose of what we do each day as the topic of lifestyle. Yes, there are many issues operators face such as staff development, real estate, regulations, and such.  However, those topics deal with the business side of things and that’s not why many of us got into this line of work.

At the recent ALFA Community 2012 event in Dallas, a number of sessions focused on dignity and respect, such as the session on “what senior living residents want”. During this session, eight seniors and adult children talked about what senior living life is like from the first day the resident and family starts researching communities, to daily life after the resident is settled in. One resident panelist, speaking about his initial community tour said it best: “It’s almost like it wasn’t a business. It was like she was inviting us into her home.” Powerful.

I love the annual Short Film competition held at the ALFA conference each year. Great tools for evangelizing this topic of dignity and respect result from the contest. This year’s winning entry was just as powerful and moving as last year’s. “Life is a Ball” helps explain that every person has a rich life story – and a reminder that the seniors in our communities are people, and not just an ADL checklist task or a head in the census. Last year’s winning entry, “Mind the Gap”, is a great story for younger caregivers and employees to watch in an effort to get the message across that many seniors have the same ageism issues that many younger people do and that we all need to take an active role in overcoming prejudices and stereotypes.

I invite you to share these stories of dignity and respect with your fellow employees via email or at your next staff meeting.

Do You Have a Program Designed to Reduce Fall Risk?

Senior woman in wheelchair with caregiver

How do you use technology to mitigate resident fall-risk & maximize independence?

The risk is real
The awareness related to fall risks over the last few years is staggering. One in five hip fractures results in a death within a year of the incident. One in four seniors that fall and fracture a hip, who used to live independently, spend at least the next year in an assisted living or nursing home environment. It’s also a little concerning how little, as an industry, we’ve done to mitigate the risk. Fall detection is largely a waste, the damage is done, and unless the resident is unconscious automated fall detection devices do little more than let you know the horse is out of the barn.

What can you do?
Fall prevention programs need to be comprehensive and targeted. Do you evaluate the medications your residents are taking and develop specific and targeted prevention programs if their medication puts them at increased risk? If a resident has had a previous fall, do you know the likelihood of them falling again compared to those who have never had a fall? Are you putting technology and processes in place to create an environment which reduces a resident’s risk of a repeat incident? Knowing the precursors of a fall is a critical component to prevent it from happening.

For further reading on the risks related to falls and the possible outcomes, often life threatening, visit the CDC’s Website on Falls for Older Adults .

If you don’t currently employ technology to prevent a fall then contact your sales representative
(sales@tel-tron.com) to talk about what it takes to be successfully implement a fall prevention strategy.

To learn more about the benefits of Tel-Tron’s unique fall management technology, click here.

A National Standard for Emergency Call Systems (It’s on the way!)

In any Assisted or Independent Living community, the emergency call system is a significant link in the delivery of Life Safety for the residents. When help is needed, the expectation is that the emergency call system will reliably summon that help.

Despite this importance, however, emergency call systems are often treated pretty casually. Many think the various systems available on the market are all alike; they are not. Many assume that any system on the market must meet a nationally recognized standard; not so – there is no such standard – not today.

Nurse call systems for hospitals and nursing homes have had the ANSI/UL 1069 standard for many years. There are significant differences between application of nurse call and emergency call systems, however; applying a standard for nurse call to a residential property, such as Assisted Living or Independent Living, simply does not work well.

The standard for Assisted and Independent Living is coming, though. After almost seven years of work, a final draft of ANSI/UL 2560 has been posted on an internal UL web site for comment by members of the panel that will vote upon its adoption and other stake holders. Depending on the comments received, it will most likely be voted upon and adopted in early 2011.

 

The new 2560 standard covers hard wired and wireless emergency call systems. It requires minimum coverage of fixed call stations, allows portable devices (pendants) and specifies the maximum time from when an alarm is placed until it is reported. Generally, calls can be canceled only at the point from which they originated. (With certain exceptions, the call cannot be canceled from the desk.) All devices must be self testing and troubles must be reported within specified times. The standard requires backup power and obligates the manufacturer to state how long the backup power will last. It also requires that a battery powered device report a low battery and will continue to work for at least seven days after the low battery report.

The standard is very inclusive in terms of requirements. It provides no special advantage for any one manufacturer; most current manufacturers should be able to comply with only minor revisions to their products, if any. The standard also provides for future innovation by covering only the core life safety system. Ancillary features which were not envisioned by the standard can be added to the system provided they do not interfere with the operation of the core system.

This all started back in 2003 when Tel-Tron and a handful of other manufacturers formed the Emergency Call Systems Association (ECSA). The intent was to publish a consensus standard that would detail the minimum standards for an emergency call system. With no staff and no budget, the attempt never really got off the ground.

Then, in 2005, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) picked up the ball. NEMA’s “Health Care Communications Group” expanded its role and became the “Health Care Communications and Emergency Call Systems Group.” Many of the companies from the by then disbanded ECSA were represented and the effort for a national standard resumed. A task group was formed to draft a standard and both NEMA and UL agreed to provide staff support.

 

Like all ANSI standards, 2560 represents a consensus of manufacturers, users, regulatory agencies, and National Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) and other stake holders. By rule, and to avoid building standards around parochial interests, manufacturers are a small minority of representation on a Standards Technical Panel (STP). In the case of this standard, the STP consists of 17 members, only 5 of whom are product manufacturers.

A white paper on the proposed standard has been prepared by NEMA and is available here http://www.nema.org/stds/sbp1.cfm. (The document is free, but NEMA is not immune from bureaucracy, so you need to create an account to download it.) In some areas, the white paper was predictive, and there are some discrepancies between it and the draft standard, but it still provides a good overview of the standard.

Once the standard has been adopted, it will take some time for manufactures to demonstrate compliance to an NRTL and become “listed.” Our industry is moving towards the time when owners, developers, and managers of Senior Living communities will have a trusted third-party evaluation of the emergency call systems they are considering for purchase.

Tel-Tron has always been dedicated to lifting the reputation and quality of our industry. A national standard is one way to do that. Our Brian Dawson was founder and president of the original ECSA. Brian is also a member of the Hospital Communications and Emergency Call Systems Group at NEMA. I chair the Technical Committee of that group, was a member of the task group that created the original draft of the standard, and wrote the NEMA white paper. I am also a member of the UL1069 STP (to which this standard has been assigned) and chair the task group charged with handling ANSI/UL 2560.

As the senior living industry continues to mature, the time for this standard has come. Resident safety is too important a topic – from both the humanity and legal points of view – to take a chance on a product that cannot meet minimum standards. Most manufacturers and suppliers of emergency call systems provide quality and reliable products. There are exceptions, however, and this new 2560 standard will allow communities to purchase compliant products with confidence.

All Senior Living Communities Are The Same!

Exhibit ASeriously.  Take a look at the web sites for the top senior living providers and see if you can spot the differences between them.  I’ve posted a few screen shots from a few just to prove the point.  Look at the mission statement graphic.  Is there a senior living company in existence that doesn’t claim to do ALL of those same things?

  • Friendly/Caring Staff
  • Beautiful Rooms
  • Great Food Service
  • Fun Activities and Social InteractionExhibit B
  • Regular Laundry Services
  • Transportation as Needed
  • 24 hour emergency response system
  • Etc., Etc., Etc.

So it is reasonable to assume all senior living communities are the same based on what they “claim” to be able to provide.  Deeper understanding isn’t necessary.  The only method to choose one from another would be whichever is cheapest.  Make sense?  It’s only where you will likely live the rest of your life.

To a person, my clients would say that is a ridiculous assertion.  And they would be right.

Having been in literally hundreds of retirement communities all over the United Exhibit CStates I can say with certainty that while the list of offerings is similar, all senior living communities are NOT the same.

In about 100 ways that don’t show up well on paper, I could easily describe the difference between a run-down old building, with criminal care givers, operated by a fly-by-night company and a well run, thoughtfully built and superbly managed senior living community – maybe even operated by a equally high quality corporate owner.  Every senior living executive knows instinctively that not all senior living companies, or communities, are created equal.  Far from it!

So help me with this.  Some of those same senior living executives – decision makers –believe that there is equality between all emergency call system providers simply because they claim to offer similar services.  For example, most of us claim to provide:

Does not the same logic apply to our industry and theirs?  You can’t have it both ways.  Isn’t it the design, manufacture and delivery of products and services that makes ALL the difference?  Of course.  There seems to be a strong desire for the flexibility that comes from buying commodity products – multiple sources, hyper-competitive pricing, etc.  But just pretending that a market is commoditized doesn’t make it true.  It does, however, alter your perceptions – incorrectly and potentially dangerously.

If you are using a commodity-based mentality to judge a non-commodity product/service you will make two mistakes.  1) You will assume the low price companies are decent quality and just being competitive.  Wrong.  They are inexpensive because they are cheap and poorly made.  2)  You will assume the high price companies are not better than the low price guys, they are just out of touch with current market prices.  Wrong again.

Being the Designer and Manufacturer Matters

Making A Difference

Delivering On The Promise 78 Times and Counting

In about 100 ways that don’t show up well on paper, I could describe the difference between a cheap PC based system, integrated with generic wireless components made by someone else, delivered by a clueless bunch of software guys, and a highly specialized emergency call system, made in America by a company that has invented nearly every feature of modern life safety systems, delivered and supported by the most experienced and committed emergency call professionals in the world.

So, no.  Not all senior living communities are the same. Neither are emergency call companies.

How Long Should Emergency Call Systems Last?

Forever.  Not really, but that is probably the only answer any buyer wants to hear.  These are technically advanced systems, so a multi-decade expectation is probably not realistic anymore.  That kind of thinking is a throwback from the days that emergency call systems were nothing more than a light bulb and a switch.

“It’s just not right that after just buying your systems 12 years ago we should have to spend money to upgrade them to the latest and greatest.  The whole emergency call industry has us bent over a barrel.  We have to have these systems, and you force us to upgrade them.”  — Actual conversation with the CEO of a major senior living provider and long term client.  His expectations are common, but not realistic.

So what is a realistic time frame?  And what should senior living operators expect for an End of Life process.  This article will attempt to answer those to questions and others.  I am running a risk here by shattering the dream of some buyers who genuinely think emergency call systems should last for 20+ years (and never need service).  However, candid discussion, and setting realistic expectations is how Tel-Tron has been in business for 65 years and why we still have our first ever senior living customer as a client.  Here it goes:

Product Life Cycle

Senior living operators should expect to get 10 years of performance out of an emergency call system.**  I star this statement because their are many mitigating circumstances that will extend this time period.  But let’s assume for sake of this discussion that no changes or upgrades are made to the system at all during its life.  Why only 10 years?  It isn’t the hardware.

Using rugged design philosophy, level III manufacturing techniques, and high quality components (all of which Tel-Tron does) will result in a system that will function in a perfect, temperature controlled, never touched by a human being environment  for 20-30 years.  We just replaced an old Tel-Tron system at Shellpoint Village that had been installed and working for over 25 years.  It is not the hardware that gives out and requires replacement.

Sure, sometimes components become obsolete and a replacement needs to be sourced. And, occasionally new technology is invented and wipes out an entire design methodology.  This makes continued manufacturing difficult, but won’t cause the system you already purchased to suddenly quit.  Just because they invented high definition TV doesn’t mean your old set will all of a sudden quit working.  That’s Murphy’s law, which is out of human control.  But these and other issues do relate to the primary reason products become obsolete and manufacturers issue “End of Life” notices.  Manufacture-ability and Supportability.

MicroScan System - Introduced in 1982

Manufacture-ability – If new components or technology is invented, the cost of continuing to manufacture the old way eventually becomes prohibitive.  For example, in an older Tel-Tron product we used an EEPROM chip that was less than $1 each.  Today, that same component is $25.  In other cases, it isn’t a matter of expense.  The part is simply unavailable.

Supportability – Take the EEPROM chip example above.  At some point, Tel-Tron was forced to design a new circuit board using a different EEPROM chip, and was required to write new firmware to support the new EEPROM chip.  At the same time we made a few other improvements and released a new product version.  At that instant, we were now supporting two versions of the same product.  In the product design world, that is called legacy product support.  The problem is that while the two products do the same thing (and because we’re good, the new one is also backwards compatible), repair of the old version is not feasible.  Over the course of a decade this process can repeat itself several times and at some point, it is simply too costly to maintain multiple versions of the same product.  This same level of complexity ripples throughout the organization.

Technical support, installation, customer service – even sales – all need to stay aware of product versions and capabilities.  When the weight of maintaining an multi-version, outdated product line is heavier than designing a new platform from scratch, End of Life announcement can’t be far away. Senior living operators deal with this issue all the time in their business.  The product in their world is the physical plant (the building) itself.  How many times have operators looking to grow their business had to make the build/buy decision.  It’s the same concept.

Think of the complexity of owning a senior living building that was built in multiple phases, expansions and refurbishments, over the course of 20 years.  Different electrical systems, wiring standards, wall construction, fire supression systems, hallway widths, etc.  The list is endless.  Every once in a while the decision is made to demo the building and start over.  It doesn’t happen often, but it happens.  Or maybe, like in the case of the Tel-Tron building, entire system are replaced.  We needed a new HVAC unit.  It was so difficult to retrofit to the old ductwork, we ripped out all the ceilings and replaced everything.  Sometimes a new platform is required. Their is no way to avoid an occasional End Of Life event.

Instead, we should focus on how long a product should last from time of purchase until End Of Life, and how the transition handled.  These two areas are a matter of corporate policy and reflect the character of the organization and its leadership.  And…a subject for a future blog post.

MOTOTRBO, Engenius, and the many other mobile ways we can alert your on-the-go staff …

Let’s say you operate a large assisted living property that spans several buildings over several acres.  Maybe even an entire gated community with hundreds of detached cottages and casitas.  Chances are your first responders to emergency call events will be your security staff who typically will carry portable, two-way radios that operate in the 400 to 470 MHz licensed frequency spectrum, possibly using repeaters to span your property.  To annunciate emergency calls to two-way radios, we offer text-to-speech voice and, in the case of the very cool MOTOTRBO, text messages that appear on the radio handset.

MOTOTRBO Licensed 400 MHz Digital Radio

Motorola’s MOTOTRBO™ professional digital two-way radio handsets are rugged, and have LCD screens that can display emergency call alerts. [See http://business.motorola.com/mototrbo/US/docs/MOTOTRBO_System_Brochure_1_08.pdf] The MOTOTRBO technology also provides two independent channels for the price of one FCC site license* (a second channel doesn’t require a second repeater — two channels are supported on a standard 12.5 KHz channel).  A common deployment scenario is to dispatch emergency calls out over one channel, and retain regular two-way voice for security personnel on the other channel.  Since we’re an authorized Motorola Application Developer (we developed a way to interface with our emergency call systems), we can also use Motorola’s Customer Programming Software (CPS) to tailor your MOTOTRBO system to suit your property needs. *Note: A FCC site license is not necessarily required. So-called “dot frequencies” are available (shared amongst many users) that do not require registration.  However, a FCC site license will guarantee no interference from others operating on the same frequency. Consult with Tel-Tron or your local radio dealer.

Two-Way Licensed 400 MHz Analog Radios

What if your security or care giver staff doesn’t carry text-capable digital radios? It is still a predominantly single-channel analog world out there for two-way radios, with many low-cost models to choose from. If your property uses a type that has PTT (push-to-talk) relay and audio inputs at the base station, consider our text-to-speech offering. When there is an emergency call event your radio-carrying staff will hear, for example, “Attention, Emergency Call, Apartment 101.” Similarly, when the emergency call event is cleared or reset, they’ll hear “Attention, Emergency Call, Apartment 101, Clear.”

Engenius Unlicensed 900 MHz Cordless Phone “Radio”

Does your staff need to be able to place and receive regular telephone calls and be in contact with each other over a large area, and at the same time be able to receive emergency calls?  The Engenius DuraFon 1X Long Range Industrial Cordless TM Phone System may be right for your facility. [See http://www.engeniustech.com/telecom/products/details.aspx?id=103.] EnGenius cordless phones allow up to 36 users to share 4 lines, and include push-to-talk radio, call transfers, and text messaging. The DuraFon 1X will also allow users to loudly broadcast to another user, a group of users, or all users. Emergency call alerts may be displayed as caller ID text (e.g., “Emergency Call, Apartment 101) and/or voiced by the Tel-Tron automated attendant.

Unlicensed 900/2400 MHz Cordless Phones

Less sophisticated and inexpensive cordless phones may be used by smaller assisted living facilities (generally low-power and cannot be “repeatered”).  As above, emergency call alerts may be displayed as caller ID text, and/or voiced by the Tel-Tron automated attendant.

Onsite Pagers

Unlicensed Pagers (those things from the 1980’s) are still a popular, low-cost way to alert your on-the-go staff.  Generally the transmitter base is powerful enough to reach across a large building.  Pagers are just one-way devices, without any voice capability.  Emergency call alerts may only be displayed as text messages on the pager screen.  [As a staff convenience, we also offer a popular “reminders via paging.”  For example, a particular caregiver may receive a page that states “Mary Jones, Apartment 101, Doctor Appointment, 10:00 am.”  [See http://www.tel-tron.com/scheduledreminders.php ]

Cell Phones

Nowadays, it’s a sure bet that your entire staff carries a personal cell phone. Most properties of course ask their staff to keep their personal cell phone in a locker while on the job to minimize distractions.  But some members of your executive staff may desire to be informed of emergency call events via a SMS text message on their cell phone.  We offer a high-degree of programmability when to send alerts; frequently Executive Directors only want to receive an SMS text if an emergency call event is not cleared within, for example, 10 minutes.  Such alerts can also easily be scheduled: the ED receives the alerts during the day, the Associate ED at night. [See http://www.tel-tron.com/ethernet.php ]

In summary, whatever mobile device your staff carries, we probably have an off-the-shelf way to alert them with Tel-Tron emergency call alerts.  Check out our website for other device examples (such as the Cisco IP phone).  [See http://www.tel-tron.com/cisco-phone-radio-paging-mobile.php ]

Wireless Network….Heal Thy Self!

Every time I hear someone say “wireless emergency call systems are pretty much all the same” it makes my want to pull my hair out.  While it is true that many systems have a similar mission, there are very few similarities in how the mission gets

Click here for a tutorial

 accomplished.  Here is a HUGE, IMPORTANT, SIGNIFICANT, FUNDAMENTAL, MEANINGFUL  example.  Enough emphasis?

On most wireless networks used for emergency call systems, if one access point (transceiver) fails, YOU LOSE EVERY OTHER RECEIVER DOWN LINE.  That’s because signals “hop” from one transceiver to the next all the way back to the computer.  Any break in the chain and the call for help goes unanswered.  GOOD ENOUGH for email, surfing the web, etc.  BAD IDEA when the data being transmitted is a person’s call for help.

That is why Tel-Tron never designed an emergency call system using the point-to-point wireless networking scheme described above.  In 2008, we released our version of a wireless network using what is called a “Self Healing, Wireless Mesh Network.” Translation:  If any access point fails, the downline access points can automatically reroute.  The network self-heals.  And, since all Tel-Tron systems are fully supervised, the system will alarm and display which access point has failed.  As of this writing, no other company is offering this level of wireless network service.  (No other company designs and manufactures their own wireless products…..but that is a post for another time.)  For a neat flash based tutorial on this topic, please click here.

Even the chip manufacturer was impressed, and published a “Customer Success Story” on our implementation. Check it out.

I suppose a rough analogy is the difference between run-flat tires and standard tires.  With a standard tire, if you get a flat your trip is over until you change the tire.  With a run-flat tire, if you get a flat, you are notified, but your trip is uninterrupted.  That kind of safety and redundancy seems like a great idea if you were a woman driving alone at night through a sketchy part of town on your way home.  Or, if you were a senior living resident who was counting on your call for help getting answered.

There are hundreds of differences like this between wireless nurse call system providers.  So, no, emergency call systems are not all “pretty much the same.”

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