If you work in health and social care, teaching, or childcare, open access buildings have the potential to constitute a safeguarding risk.
In healthcare for example, when individuals display behaviours that present a flight risk - such as dementia patients wandering around places where they should not be – they are in danger of entering unsafe areas or leaving your premises altogether.
Meanwhile, in teaching and childcare settings, poor security can lead to child absconsion and/or unauthorised and unvetted individuals entering the area.
When used in conjunction with existing security protocol, access controls can provide a solution to many security issues faced by health and education providers. Here, we will address some common safeguarding issues faced by carers, and outline how access controls can be used to keep vulnerable adults and children safe.
1. Locked Wards
Adults who are held under a Section may present a high risk to themselves, and/or other people. In this instance, they may be held in a locked ward for an allocated period of time while they are rehabilitated.
Locked units often have strict limits on items that can be taken onto the ward, as many ordinary items, such as belts, tights, and cutlery may be used to make an offensive weapon.
As such, most locked wards don’t use keys for their doors: instead, they use access controls that are operated by a fob or entry code. This prevents keys from being used as a weapon and enables staff to cancel a fob if it is stolen.
A networked system is the best option for high-risk facilities, as it not only allows you to restrict access, but also to monitor your users’ movements. In an emergency, this can save precious time and allow you to more easily locate a staff member who may have been injured or attacked.
Networked systems can also be set to have ‘open’ and ‘closed’ access periods, which can be appropriate for lower-security settings where patients are permitted to come and go as they please during the day, but have restricted access at night.
2. Theft Prevention
Access controls may also be used to prevent criminal activity from occurring on-site.
For example, supply stores often contain controlled drugs, making them a target for drug dealers and patients who abuse substances. However, theft can also involve the stealing of basic items such as toilet paper and soap, and even the personal belongings of staff and patients.
Using access controls helps to keep your supplies secure and your personal items safely locked away from potential thieves. They can also be used in medical and educational settings to create safe rooms in which to store confidential records.
Patients struggling with mental health conditions sometimes present with behaviours that put them at risk of going AWOL, such as manic features in cases of psychosis or bipolar disorder.
Although regular checks in locked wards and forensic units will be conducted according to risk assessments, it’s easy for a patient to be missed or mistaken for a member of the public. Children may also leave school sites if they are bored, or are experiencing distress due to family issues or bullying; this puts them at risk of abuse by members of the public.
Access controls can set your mind at ease, safe in the knowledge that only your staff can get in and out. And should you need to add another device - such as visitor fobs, for example - you can easily make the addition through the access control network.
4. Unwanted Visitors
Unwanted visitors can present several risks to vulnerable people, and all visitors should be properly vetted by staff before they are granted access to medical and educational settings.
For example, some vulnerable people - particularly those with mental health problems and substance abuse issues - may be targeted by criminals while on the wards; drug dealers have been known to supply to patients being treated for mental health and substance abuse conditions, while patients who are elderly or lonely may be the targets of fraudulent activity.
This can be particularly dangerous as some vulnerable patients might lack the capacity to identify the threat and bring it to the attention of a member of staff.
Meanwhile, in education and childcare settings, children can be put at risk if unfamiliar adults are allowed on to the premises without being vetted.
In these instances, access controls can keep out visitors who may pose a threat to vulnerable residents and/or children by ensuring that only approved visitors can enter the site. When used in conjunction with effective security protocol, this can protect against abuse, fraud, and other criminal activity.
5. Environmental Risks
If your organisation works with vulnerable people who have physical or mental impairments, there may be environmental factors that could pose a risk to their health, such as stairwells, windows, and trip hazards.
However, using access controls to seal off dangerous features can protect your residents against injury, while still enabling staff to come and go as they please.
Want to use access controls to improve the safety and security of your premises? Give us a call and let's get started!