The challenge of providing high-quality mental healthcare in Ireland is shared across a complex system of Health Boards, religious institutions, day care centres and private hospitals. With a broad range of facilities, designs and ages, effective staff communications must be highly flexible, but also reliable and cost-effective.
Healthcare suppliers are expected to provide complete turn-key solutions; therefore it is in the interests of all stakeholders to limit unnecessary costs, whilst supporting appropriate levels of care. In 2017, the Republic of Ireland’s Government allocated €851.3m for mental health services to meet patient needs.
With any mental healthcare facility staff need support in situations where themselves or patients are at risk of harm, so personal safety communications systems are essential. Traditionally these systems have had to strictly fit in with the specifications and layout of the facilities accommodating them. For instance, cabling could be restricted by the infrastructure of the building, making truly bespoke installations difficult without incurring considerable additional costs.
Location identification is a vital part of any staff protection systems, ensuring help swiftly reaches people in need. Some systems rely upon infrared beacons around the facility, but in too close a proximity these cause excessive battery drain in the portable devices communicating with them. Unfortunately, bigger gaps make accurate location difficult.
Another option is fixed alarm panels around the wards or facilities, but that can bring its own issues as Brian Barry, Director at BP Multipage, Ireland’s leading supplier of wireless communications systems, explained, “This publicly displays the location of each alarm activation and is accompanied by an audible alarm that can be disruptive for patients and staff. At night, when staff levels are low, the volume often has to be increased to prevent emergency calls being missed.”
Multitone’s EKO TEk staff protection system is designed with healthcare providers firmly in mind and boasts a number of features that stand out from the competition. Because the EkoTek system is wireless it can be installed in virtually any location, which is perfect for new-build facilities or older buildings where wiring would be expensive and difficult to install.
The mobile alarm devices feature two levels of alert – a red button for emergencies and a blue button for non-urgent assistance calls. This allows staff to discreetly call for different levels of assistance according to their needs.
Because EkoTek relies on Wi-Fi transmitters (rather than infrared), it provides a highly accurate location of an alert/staff member, even if they continue to move. This also means the device can be worn under a jacket or uniform for discretion, to avoid upsetting patients or visitors when an alert is taking place.
The EkoTek system ensures that an alert can only be switched off at the source device, so any situation must be investigated and alerts cannot be ignored, giving reassurance to staff that assistance is coming. Charging racks ensure the device charges automatically in situ, with no need to ensure it is latched securely. A full charge offers an impressive three or four days’ worth of normal usage. The EkoTek range is IP67 rated, allowing users to clean the devices with sprays or disinfectant to ensure hygiene is maintained, whilst protecting against dirt and water ingress.
BP Multipage has installed EkoTek in over 15 mental healthcare service providers across Ireland. Its first installation was at the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) Phoenix Care Centre site at Grangegorman in Dublin. Others include Crosslanes Hospital in Drogheda, a new mental health hospital providing services to the entire Louth Meath area of Ireland.
Additionally, BP Multipage has installed EkoTek systems at a number of other HSE day hospitals and day care centres in Drogheda and Limerick, as well as new primary care units in County Kildare.
EkoTek has provided each site with simple and cost-effective installation of wireless systems, precise room-based location and two distinct levels of alert. Wireless beacons (with a panic button) can be placed wherever is convenient or helpful (such as walls, rather than just ceilings) – in any part of the facility, such as administrative areas, reception areas, offices, consultant’s rooms or nursing staff areas, just as much as wards and treatment areas.
Brian commented, “EkoTek is very competitively priced and with the considerable installation and wiring savings, many of the healthcare facilities we work with have found it considerably better value than other options, particularly in larger buildings and older more complicated legacy facilities – where it is truly outstanding and unique.”
Brian continued, “It is also a highly flexible and usable system. Our customers praise the two levels of alert feature, its discretion in often volatile situations, as well as the excellent charging and battery life. They also like the fact that the EkoMessenger (combined pager and alert device) and EkoFob variants make it suitable and affordable for all members of staff. We have also integrated it with fire alarm systems and a dementia patient wander solution at two mental healthcare sites.”
Brian concluded, “EkoTek has proven time and again to be the perfect solution for our healthcare customers. It continues to be installed and successfully depended upon in mental health hospitals, day hospitals and primary care centres across the Republic of Ireland.”