According to the latest Crime Survey of England and Wales, domestic burglaries fell 8% in the year October 2015 to September 2016 and are down 71% since 1995. In part, this reduction is thanks to the tighter legislation and higher performance of security products such as windows and doors being installed into our homes. When it comes to residential, nursing and care homes, the issue of security can be even more complex as specifiers and manufacturers need to achieve the balance between internal and external security, while being mindful that the majority of residents and end-users are vulnerable and often physically or mentally impaired. Here are some points to consider that will help keep unwanted burglars out, but also keep residents safe.
Keeping intruders out (external security)
Well-made windows and doors from reputable companies who adhere to current legislation now provide excellent security against intruders. However, due diligence must be carried out to ensure the most up-to-date legislative measures have been followed by potential suppliers. Looking for windows and doors that are Secured by Design-approved or carry PAS 24 certification is a good place to start.
PAS 24:2016 and SBD
In 2016, the PAS 24 security standard was updated to make it more difficult for windows and doors to pass the necessary testing. However, Approved Document Q for new-build properties still accepts the previous PAS 24:2012 for the time being. Another well-recognised stamp of security is Secured by Design, the UK Police flagship initiative that is founded on the principles of designing out crime and crime prevention.
Lifetime Homes compliance
The requirement for security in care homes also needs to be balanced with comfort and ease of use. According to Lifetime Homes* windows in the principal living space should be approachable and usable by a wide range of people – including those with restricted movement and reach. This means windows should have handles/controls no higher than 1200mm from the floor.
Protecting residents – internal security
Depending on the sensitivity of the establishment, windows and doors might also need to prevent residents getting out, in addition to preventing intruders getting in. Homes caring for those with a mental illness may also have a requirement for anti-ligature measures. All of this falls under the requirements of the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The CQC is the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England.
According to the national independent watchdog and non-departmental public body, the Health and Safety Executive, there are three broad categories of falls from windows: 1) Accidental, 2) Falls arising from a confused mental state, and 3) Deliberate self-harm or suicide. Where there is a risk from residents falling from windows, window restrictors should be specified. With window restrictors in place, openings can be restricted to 100mm or less. The restriction can only be disengaged using a special tool or key to ensure residents or staff don’t accidentally disengage them.
Anti-ligature measures are a consideration in facilities that care for patients with mental illness and eliminate any points where a cord, rope or even bed sheet can be tied to any fixture to create a point of ligature which may result in self-harm or in the worst-case scenario, loss of life. The ligature risk in windows and doors is eliminated by using specifically designed hardware called anti-ligature hardware.
In addition to these varied security considerations, we must not lose sight of the other performance elements required from windows and doors in care homes. For example, the solar control to ensure rooms don’t become too hot when in sunlight and low threshold doors for ease of use.
Deceuninck has a trusted network of fabricators that carry out work on projects ranging from sheltered homes to new-build retirement apartments with warden facilities, to high security establishments – each with a very specific set of security requirements. In such an important area, experience and knowledge of the various standards, legislation and product solutions available are paramount and the company is proud to be delivering this to such a worthwhile sector.
In order to deliver safe and secure environments for residents, specifiers need suppliers they can trust. Deceuninck’s experience in the care home sector includes work with BUPA and the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution Care Company.
Rob Murray, National Project Manager with the RMBI Care Company, said: “I have been working with Deceuninck for a year now and have received huge support with extremely responsive personal solutions with detailed designs and specifications.
Their support doesn’t stop there – they follow through on the initial design and specification stage by ensuring the full supply chain is performing as I require and are quick to react when things need addressing. Thankfully, this isn’t often. They have also gone above and beyond by introducing me to other quality suppliers of non-competitive products, enabling me to work with some wonderful companies and professional people. Each individual care home needs its own specification and by using Deceuninck windows and doors, I’ve found I can have a continuous standard of quality but with the necessary flexibility in design elements. Deceuninck products are now in over half of our care homes and residents have commented on how much they enjoy them and how easy they are to operate.”