The importance of strong cell signals in nursing homes

With 42 percent of seniors over 65 owning a smartphone, one of the top concerns when choosing a nursing home is the ability to stay in touch with loved ones. Families and friends want to easily and seamlessly check in on nursing home residents so they can stay connected and ensure their well-being and happiness.

Strong cell service is crucial in any building, from pharmacies, schools and hotels, to businesses and hospitals. Assisted-living and long-term care facilities are no exception. A number of factors, including building materials and the age and location of buildings, can contribute to weak or non-existent cell signal.

The ability for residents to stay in touch with family members and loved ones is critical to ensure a good quality of life. Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever for families to check in on their relatives 24/7 in real-time using smartphones and apps like FaceTime or Skype, even when they’re unable to make in-person visits due to distance or other circumstances.

A reliable cell signal is also critical for the staff at any assisted-living or long-term care facility, who need good service to ensure that internal communication and the systems and technologies supporting resident and data security are running as efficiently as possible. Poor cell signal also presents security and safety risks, should medical personnel be unable to appropriately respond to an emergency because they’re unable to communicate.

Despite these risks, many facility owners and managers avoid the important task of improving cell signal due to perceived high costs and disruption to residents, which can cause problems and frustration for residents and staff. However, this isn’t the case with passive distributed antenna system (DAS) technology.

Unlike expensive and disruptive active DAS systems, passive DAS offers a simpler solution, with antennas only installed where needed instead of having to hardwire fiber optics into the building. Passive DAS is also significantly cheaper than active DAS (30 to 70 cents per square foot, as opposed to $2 to $4 per square foot). Passive DAS solutions boost cell signal by up to 32 times for assisted-living and long-term care facilities. They work with all wireless carriers, so residents and staff can all enjoy better coverage, regardless if they use Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or another carrier.

Making sure that cellular connectivity is strong is the best move that any assisted-living or long-term care facility manager or owner can make to provide a higher standard of living for residents and give them the peace of mind that they’ll be able to communicate with their family members and others outside the facility as often and as easily as they’d like. It will also ensure that the nursing home staff is connected and can quickly respond to make sure that residents are given the best care possible.


Jeff Gudewicz is chief product officer for Wilson Electronics, a manufacturer of cell phone signal boosters.