Direct Supply Simplifies Senior Living at Friendship Village of Bloomington

Direct Supply’s project included eight different low-voltage systems integrated throughout the property, earning it a 2021 SSI Installation of the Year runner-up honor.

Direct Supply is an employee-owned company based in Milwaukee that specializes in providing equipment, eCommerce and services to the senior living industry. The company was chosen to take part in a multimillion-dollar makeover of Friendship Village of Bloomington (Minn.), a community by Lifespace.

The client desired a wide range of high-tech features. “Brand-new independent living units were constructed, including wellness-focused features. This retirement community features technology that was designed to enhance resident care and make the facility run more efficiently,” says Patrick Mahoney, Direct Supply senior technology designer.

The project included an enhanced video surveillance system, digital signage displays and a wireless emergency nurse call system that allows residents to use pendants to request assistance from anywhere on campus. Suites include WiFi coverage for care providers’ handheld emergency communications devices.

An electronic access control system was added at exterior and interior doors, including the parking garage doors. The security systems were required to function with existing elderly residents living elsewhere on the campus who would visit the facilities, new residents in the building, guests of residents visiting the building and the on-site staff.

For visitors and deliveries, an intercom system was installed at main vestibules and the receiving door with master intercom stations located in the lobby and kitchen that allowed audio communication and remote door release, Mahoney says.

Wander management was also a priority for this community. “Sixty percent of people with Alzheimer’s or dementia will wander. This project included a reliable wander management protection system that seamlessly integrates with the community’s security protocols. At-risk residents wear a bracelet that resembles a wearable fitness device. The wander management system alerts seamlessly integrate with the wireless nurse call systems. Care was taken to ensure the exciters on the wander management system would not interfere with the wireless access control system credential readers,” explains Mahoney.

This aspect created a unique challenge for Direct Supply. The company says it has proven difficult for memory care communities to balance the code requirements for egress with the needs of residents. For example, in the memory care portion of the project “the clinical needs of persons receiving care require their containment” and therefore, restricting egress is important.

Mahoney says when design of the project began, Minnesota law 144G for assisted living did not allow egress paths to restrict exiting. Due to the code restrictions, the facility was designed with delayed egress locking. The delayed egress only withholds exiting for 15 seconds. Elopement after 15 seconds was identified as a risk, and residents with memory issues can suffer severe injuries as the result of flight.

During construction the state law was changed for buildings with an I-1 occupancy. The owner and operation teams voiced concern about resident safety and the potential of elopement using the construction document arrangement of delayed egress. With the code change the AHJ allowed the plans to be changed, adding special locking arrangements to control egress, as the clinical needs of persons receiving care require locking to prevent elopement.

“In working with Direct Supply, Lifespace created a forward-thinking, world-class safety solution to ensure residents, guests and staff are safe at all times. This building features eight different low-voltage systems, and the integration of these systems sets it apart from other communities,” adds Mahoney.

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About the Author


Steven A. Karantzoulidis is the Web Editor for Security Sales & Integration. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in Communication and has a background in Film, A/V and Social Media.

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