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The Evolution of Identification Systems

In the past, resident’s clothing in nursing homes was sorted by chance.  This “sorting procedure” was inefficient and about 20 percent of the time, residents were given someone else’s clothing.  Needless to say, there was a need for a more efficient means of clothing identification. Hence, the laundry marker was invented.

The laundry marker method is still in use but is not a very efficient way to identify clothes.  Due to intense temperatures clothing is exposed to in the laundry process, intense temperature in the wash and heat in the dryers, the mark of a laundry marker is washed away after 3 or 4 washes.

The loss of clothing is still a problem for nursing homes, and it is a ‘problem’ that can cost homes without proper ID systems thousands of dollars a year.

It is important to remember that returning resident clothing to the rightful owner is not only a financial issue – it is a human dignity issue for nursing home residents -- the senior population who wish to have use of their own clothes, eyeglasses and dentures.

Several states are beginning to mandate the identification process of personal property in nursing homes.  Participating states will include identification issues as part of the facilities inspection.

The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 further establishes the importance of properly identifying personal belongings.
So how can nursing homes address this issue?

Unfortunately, the identification issue falls behind other issues dealt with in some nursing homes due to the lack of capital to purchase identification equipment.

However, the identification issue should not be overlooked entirely.  There are various types of Identification equipment in different cost ranges.

The least expensive identification equipment are hand held labelers.  These labelers print one label at a time.  Labels from these labelers have a life expectancy of about three washes before they need to be replaced.  This type of labeling may be considered for short-term residents.

Then, there are computerized systems available in various combinations.  A complete system would include a computer, impact printer, labels, heat press and software.  However an alternative is to use a computer within the nursing home and only purchase the impact printer, labels, heat press and software. 

What do you look for in a printer?  An impact printers - (dot matrix printer) has a 24 pin impact verses a 9 pin impact printhead.  The 24 pin penetrates the label and coats the fibers of the label with indelible ink.  This is the max penetration to give you max ink deposit for durability of printed names.
A 9 pin print head has 9 pins in a vertical line, each with a solenoid to propel it against the ribbon, making contact and leaving a dot of ink on the paper.

A 24 pin print head has 24 pins. They are smaller in diameter, and in a staggered pattern rather than vertical. This allows for a greater and deeper print density and a smoother looking printed character.

You must use indelible ink ribbons.  Indelible ink ribbons contain special ingredients that allow ink to penetrate and soak into tough surfaces, producing quick drying times and non-smearing print that resists fading when exposed to sunlight or water.

When considering the purchase of labeling equipment – consider the service and support that comes with it – or doesn’t. Service and support is a necessity for any machinery.  Will you receive direct service from the supplier such as replacement parts overnight or technical support for software issues?

When researching labeling equipment ask the manufacturer if you can receive a discount by purchasing direct.  Also, many manufactures will offer financial assistance.  But above all select a manufacturer that will give you direct service and support.

Finally, how do you justify the expense?  The cost saving generated by the savings of replacement and the labor of sorting clothing in a nursing home amounts to approximately $50 per bed / per year.  The return your investment will generally be realized within four months.

About the author: 
Gina M. Snyder is the owner of Label Tape Systems a minority owned and operated company, located in Sarasota, Florida.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Dirty Laundry Dumped In Northern California

MARYSVILLE, Calif. — Dirty laundry dumped on a highway in northern California stopped traffic and closed the roadway. The laundry, from an area medical center, was dumped when the driver of the big-rig transporting the laundry fell asleep at the wheel. The trailer jackknifed when the driver realized he’d drifted onto the shoulder and he tried to steer back onto the highway