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Care home company installs iris recognition

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A group of care homes in Sussex have installed iris recognition technology – similar to that used in airport security control – in a bid to monitor and record the movement of its staff.

Thought to be the first time such technology has been used in a care home setting, the system scans the iris of each member of independent provider Sussex Health Care’s 700 staff when they enter and exit any of its 16 homes.

Sue Connett, the company’s head of human resources, payroll and purchasing, told Nursing Times that the company decided to introduce iris scanning for staff to reduce the number of pay errors that occur when staff ‘clock in and out’ of different units.

‘It is very helpful as we have a set of staff working in more than one unit, this system enables the automatic clocking in and clocking out which reduces pay errors,’ she said.

‘The system saves staff time because they no longer have to manually fill out time sheets, it is a very simple system to use.’

Frank Ursell, chief executive of the Registered Nursing Home Association, said it was the first time he had heard of the use of iris recognition in care homes.

‘We know that iris recognition is being increasingly used to control entry to the UK, and there may be some inference that there is an element of “control”, which is greater than the simply “clocking on and off” duty,’ he said.

But he added: ‘As a part of a payroll system, or in relation to preventing unauthorised access to the care home, and following genuine consultation with the staff members concerned, I can see nothing on the face of it which would be detrimental in using such a system.’

A report by the Commons health select committee, published in December 2007, concluded that staff recognition systems in hospitals, which rely on smartcards are often slow and take more than a minute to recognise and accredit users.

In one case this led to A&E staff sharing smartcards in order to prevent delays, which resulted in all clinical audit trails being traced back to one person, even though many staff had entered patients’ details.

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