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Safety and Hospitality in Senior Living: Policy Strategies for Reducing Liability (Part 2 of 2)


Welcome back to our series, where we continue to explore the intricate balance between safety and hospitality in senior living communities. In Part 1, we delved into operational strategies to secure your facility against risks posed by visitors and vendors. In this installment, we’ll focus on the essential foundation of formal policies and procedures, which are instrumental in mitigating these risks and ensuring the safety of your residents.  

1. Creating Detailed Resident Agreements:  

Leaving No Room for Ambiguity  

Resident contracts are the cornerstone of effective risk mitigation. They must be meticulously crafted, leaving no room for ambiguity. These agreements should not merely outline visitor protocols but also specify the credentials required of private caregivers, the surveillance methods in place, and procedures to address security gaps. By doing so, you not only set clear expectations but also minimize liability in the unfortunate event of incidents.  

Furthermore, it’s imperative to reference these visitor policies in resident handbooks, ensuring consistent communication and understanding among all parties involved. To elevate the quality and legal soundness of these agreements, consider involving legal experts to review or draft them.  

2. Enforcing Tight Access Controls:  

Securing the Fortress  

Fortifying security within your senior living community begins with stringent access controls. Restrict building access through secure doors, limit the distribution of key cards, and implement a regular schedule for changing entry codes. Residents should be reminded consistently not to allow unauthorized individuals to tailgate them through secured entryways, reinforcing the importance of these measures.  

A nightly routine of walk-throughs is paramount to confirm that exits are properly locked and monitored, leaving no room for potential breaches. This proactive approach ensures that the physical security of your facility remains uncompromised.  

3. Banning Weapons for All Visitors and Residents:  

Zero Tolerance for Weapons  

Safety is non-negotiable, and maintaining a strict no-weapons policy throughout the premises is a foundational element of senior living security. This policy should be reinforced visibly through highly prominent signage, included explicitly in contracts, and detailed in resident handbooks.  

In cases where state law permits, consider the installation of secure gun lockers for resident firearms, further minimizing risks and ensuring that weapons remain out of reach.  

4. Mandating Extensive Incident Reporting:  

Transparency in Action  

To address potential risks effectively, your staff must be vigilant in documenting all incidents comprehensively. This includes promptly reporting any assaults, suspicious activities, or policy violations to leadership. The documentation of such incidents serves as a valuable resource for identifying trends, patterns, or issues that require correction.  

Keeping your board informed through routine briefings fosters transparency and allows for informed decision-making in addressing security concerns.  

5. Annually Reviewing Insurance Policies:  

Ensuring Comprehensive Coverage  

Your senior living facility’s insurance coverage is a critical aspect of liability management. Regularly conducting a thorough examination of liability policies, at least annually, is essential to ensuring comprehensive coverage for injuries, security incidents, and negligence claims.  

Additionally, it’s crucial to maintain open communication with your insurance broker. Discuss any changes to visitor policies to identify potential gaps in coverage. Stay vigilant in monitoring state regulations for assisted living facilities, as compliance is an ever-evolving landscape.  

In conclusion, balancing hospitality and safety in senior living communities is undoubtedly a delicate task. However, by implementing these proactive risk management strategies and establishing a robust foundation of policies and procedures, you can significantly reduce liability risks associated with visitors and vendors.  

If you require guidance in assessing vulnerabilities at your senior living community or have questions about insurance coverage, please don’t hesitate to reach out. With the right precautions in place, residents can enjoy their golden years in a protected and welcoming environment.  

For more information on Liberty’s National Healthcare Services Practice, please reach out to Tim Mooney, Senior Vice President (National Healthcare Services Practice Leader), The Liberty Company Insurance Brokers.  

Learn More About Liberty's National Healthcare Services Practice Group

For more information on Liberty’s National Healthcare Services Practice Group, please reach out to Tim Mooney, Senior Vice President (National Healthcare Services Practice Leader), The Liberty Company Insurance Brokers.

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