This article is an excerpt from HCPro’s popular title, The Theft Prevention Guide for Senior Living, by Stefanie Corbett, DHA.
Unfortunately, if it is left up to the individual employee to decide whether something appears suspicious, some employees will not report anything. Different people have different perceptions. Each facility needs to identify what would be considered suspicious and provide examples to employees.
A visitor of one resident observed going into another resident’s room on another hall may not be perceived as suspicious to some employees, but this could be an indicator for concern. It is not uncommon for family members to get to know other residents, but they usually do so with residents who have become friends with their loved one or those whose rooms are adjacent to their loved ones. While the visitor may have good intentions, staff should always be critical of any unusual observations and ask questions. An appropriate response in this example would be, “Hello, Mr. Brown, I rarely see you on this hall. Can I help you find something?” This brings awareness to the visitor that you have taken note of the unusual circumstance without accusing or offending them.
Likewise, all employees must also be given a uniform response procedure to follow when suspicion is detected. During employee orientation and additional trainings, facility expectations and policies on detecting, reporting, investigating, and taking action on suspicious behavior should be reviewed.
Depending on your facility’s needs, your staff can be trained to act either passively or actively in regard to security. In a passive role, employees would simply determine that something appears suspicious to them, and they would pick up a telephone and call someone in authority at the facility.
In an active role, employees would challenge—in a polite way—any person who appears to be out of place in the facility. If that person turns out to be an intruder, the employee would then call for assistance.
In any case, it is very important to take some sort of positive action whenever employees notify you of a possible security problem. You should take all calls seriously and act with a sense of urgency. Failing to do so may discourage employees from making future reports.
If someone makes a report to you, you should also explain your action steps and thank them for their cooperation.