Hospitals and other healthcare institutions are critical infrastructure where security and safety must be carefully balanced. Despite the extremely sensitive nature of these sites, crime is unfortunately frequent as criminals believe them to be ‘soft targets’. This year, it was reported that the centrepiece of a children’s memorial garden at the Royal Bolton Hospital was destroyed by intruders, while the Vale of Leven Hospital has been subjected to repeated attacks too, with multiple vehicles in the car park stolen, broken into, or damaged by vandals.
Facilities managers and specifiers have the responsibility of incorporating physical security strategies around healthcare sites to protect patients, visitors, property and assets; the challenge being that many of these sites have increased in size and complexity to meet the demands of a growing population. Fencing, gates, storage enclosures and access control is part of a solution in securing this service sector that operates 365 days a year.
Effective access control
Firstly, consider the gates and access points around the perimeter. It is important that access points are installed and controlled centrally, or regularly monitored. Consider the opening times of the facility and the type of vehicles that require access; the appropriate access solution should ensure that where necessary, emergency vehicles can get in and out of the site unhindered.
If specifying automated gates, it is best practice to use an underground operator so that there is no visible mechanism on display. When designing pedestrian and vehicular access: gates should be DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) compliant.
The design of fencing and gates must accommodate rapid evacuation and access for emergency services. With regards to the car park, there may be a need to secure it with rising arm barriers or bollards – not only to control access but to separate pedestrians from vehicle traffic, and protect different buildings such as specialist units and emergency wards.
Protecting patients from noise
Many hospitals have air-conditioning units and generators within the grounds which often create noise pollution which may disrupt patients and hinder recovery. Where this is the case, acoustic barriers such as our Jakoustic® Absorptive fencing can help to reduce noise; it features a timber structure with an additional layer covered with a mineral Rockwool® fibre and a protective membrane.
If the hospital is near a major road, then Jakoustic® Commercial and Highway acoustic fencing is a tested and certified solution to reduce noise. This barrier provides a high level of noise protection and security while maintaining a pleasant timber aesthetic, which is an essential consideration for healthcare environments.
Creating a welcoming environment should always be considered when specifying fencing for hospitals. Razor wire or barbed wire may be deterrents to potential trespassers, but can lead to intimidating appearance which is not best suited to a healthcare environment. Choose a solution that not only offers high security but is also visually attractive and fits in with the surrounding area. Our Vertical Bar Security Fencing provides strong boundary protection and excellent visibility for surveillance, while offering greater security than alternatives such as steel palisade fencing, often used for perimeter security.
For areas which require a 'softer' appearance such as garden or outdoor areas, our timber fencing may be more suitable. They promote a sense of wellbeing and privacy with their natural, welcoming appearance and come with our 25 year Jakcure® guarantee.
Outdoor storage areas
Hospitals and other medical facilities often need secure outdoor areas and bin stores to contain hazardous materials on-site before they're taken away. When specifying outdoor storage, hospitals have a responsibility to ensure that the storage area is secured using risk appropriate fencing to avoid potentially dangerous materials getting into the wrong hands.
We recommend undertaking a risk assessment to ensure that a risk appropriate solution is installed. For facilities which are at risk of criminal activity, products accredited by standards such as Secured by Design or the Loss Prevention Standards Board’s LPS 1175 are proven to reduce the likelihood of crime. It is also best practice to ensure that the storage areas are located in an area where there are no climbing aids such as lamp posts or trees, and the fence should be high enough to deter attempts at climbing.
For more information on how we can secure your hospital or healthcare site, contact us today.