SALTO access control solutions have been deployed by Eclipse Security Systems to secure RCA Villages in Melbourne, Victoria, using a combination of SALTO XS4 One, XS4 Mini and XS4 Original electronic locks.

RCA Villages builds and operates retirement communities in prime locations around Melbourne, close to shops, amenities and beaches. RCA Villages vary in size, from 147 homes and just over 200 people to the largest with 358 homes and just under 600 people.

All villages have community facilities for an active, social and healthy lifestyle – including: a clubroom with lounge and bar, a doctor’s room, semi-commercial kitchen, café, pool, spa, gym, vegetable garden, competition grade bowling greens and hairdresser.

Each site has an onsite village manager, administrative staff and, in the majority of villages, an active living coordinator. They actively facilitate bringing in outside services for exercise classes, aqua aerobics and other social and fitness activities.

When designing and building villages, RCA says it is keenly aware of the need to balance and manage a range of different requirements. Community facilities must be easily accessible to all residents and at the same time keep them secure and in good condition for residents’ enjoyment. Further, residents must feel secure in their villas or apartments, managing visitor access so that residents can easily invite their family and friends, but feel safe from unwanted external visitors.

While residents are generally fit and healthy, some may have early stages of illnesses such as dementia. RCA is very much aware of protecting these residents from situations of potential danger, while not curtailing their independence.

RCA balances these requirements with an electronic access control system (EAC) from SALTO that was installed by Eclipse Security Systems. RCA fits the SALTO XS4 One, XS4 Mini and XS4 Original electronic locks – as opposed to traditional key locks. Residents have a fob that acts as their key – each fob can be programmed based on the areas that that particular resident can access. Access can also be managed by day and time – for example, if the pool shuts at night, the fob will only open the door during the allowed access hours. SALTO’s EAC also generates reports that show RCA Village management who has accessed which areas and when.

“We put SALTO EAC locks on the front doors of clubhouses to ensure that only residents and their guests can use them – residents feel a sense of ‘ownership’ of their clubhouse, and want to know it is protected,” says RCA’s Peter Quinn.

At some sites, RCA also uses SALTO for internal clubhouse doors.

“There are some parts of the clubhouse where we need to control access either for safety or to protect valuable assets, such as bar stock,” explains Quinn. “The SALTO system means we can ensure that only those residents who work behind the bar have access to the back of house, or, where we have residents who would not be safe around the pool, we can restrict them from entering the area.

SALTO EAC was suggested and installed by Eclipse Security Systems, whose managing director, Greg Flood, says was the perfect fit.

“Many RCA villages have remote buildings, such as an admin or IT offices or an apartment building,” Flood explains. “SALTO’s unique data-on-card approach gave us the option to manage the access to those buildings via offline doors, without a network and cabling. We could offer full access control, but with reduced time, effort and cost to install and manage.

“SALTO’s wireless approach also made it feasible to retrofit the solution to existing village properties, which was another key decision factor. When we started with SALTO, RCA already had several villages in operation, but this was not an issue – we were able to install SALTO in those properties with minimal fuss.”

The SALTO EAC has replaced traditional keys for shared access points like external gates, making them much easier to manage.

“In the past if just one resident lost their key, we had to change the locks on the gates and issue new keys to hundreds of residents,” Flood says. “After switching the gates to the SALTO Geo cylinder, it’s now a simple question of cancelling and replacing one fob.”

In the newer developments, the SALTO system will be built in from the beginning and even more widely used across the facilities.

“In the villages that have apartment buildings we will connect all the doors via Wi-Fi,” Flood says. “That means that the village manager can lock or unlock the apartments remotely. If a resident did lock themselves out, they could be back in their home in the time it takes to make a call, rather than waiting for the manager to drive back to the village and let them in.”

At RCA’s latest development, entry gates controlled by the SALTO EAC manage access by reading number plates. Residents can register their own car, and those of their approved visitors, combining ease of access to those they want in the village with excluding those they don’t.

“In the future we’re also looking at extending the number plate recognition to service vehicles, such as council rubbish collection, or maintenance providers,” says Flood. “It will make running the villages even more efficient, for staff and suppliers alike.

“We’re looking to expand our use of the SALTO system all the time – it’s very friendly in its format, and adding new elements is easy.”

Quinn says the management team is delighted with the SALTO system and sees it being used even more widely in the future.

“SALTO makes running our villages so much easier”, he says. “Eventually we’d like to extend SALTO throughout every area of every property, including the front doors of individual villas. Then residents could have a single, personalised fob that gives them access to every part of the village.”

“SALTO helps us to deliver what is important to our residents – an active, healthy and engaging lifestyle, combined with security, safety and peace of mind.”

SALTO EAC features mean:

* Village managers can personalise access for individual residents, keeping each one safe and secure
* Staff no longer have to carry large bunches of keys to gain access to different parts of the village – they have a single fob for all access
* RCA no longer has a large cost if a shared access key is lost
* Staff do not have to travel to the site out of hours to provide access in the case of lockouts
* Village management have reports of who has accessed (or tried to access) each area
* RCA has the ability to add lockdown or emergency opening functionality in the future
* The system is easy to extend and positions RCA for the future.

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