What are Staff Duress Alarms?

A duress alarm is a safety security feature designed to alert authorities or designated personnel in situations where an individual is in distress or facing a life-threatening situation. It’s typically a silent alarm or ‘stealth’ mode system activated manually, signalling the need for immediate law enforcement or emergency response.

Examples of duress alarms include wearable devices like smartwatches or pendants. These devices are often equipped with an SOS button that, when pressed, sends a signal to a 24/7 monitoring bureau centre who will respond and alert emergency services.

They may also have additional features like two-way communication, GPS tracking, and fall detection. For instance, a smartwatch can be designed to look like a regular watch but with the added functionality of sending SOS alerts (discreetly), while a pendant can be discreetly worn around the neck or attached to clothing (belt clip), providing easy access to call for help.

These devices are particularly useful for individuals who work alone or in potentially hazardous environments, as they offer a quick and simple way to summon assistance without drawing attention to the situation. They’re also valuable for the elderly or those with medical conditions who might require urgent help. The integration of technology in these devices ensures that help can be reached promptly, providing peace of mind for both the wearer and their loved ones or employers.

Staff duress alarms mCareMate picture here by mCare Digital

What type of staff duress alarms do we have?

mCare Digital offers duress alarms specifically designed for personal safety. We provide two main products:

mCareWatch Safety Alarm: This is a discreet smartwatch and multifunctional device that acts as a personal alarm, GPS, and Wi-Fi tracker, and has mobile phone capabilities. It’s designed to be water-resistant, stylish, and can be recharged quickly. The device operates in a silent “stealth” mode, allowing the wearer to activate an SOS alert discreetly without alerting a potential perpetrator.

mCareMate Emergency Pendant Safety Alarm: Similar to the mCareWatch, this pendant alarm has 4G connectivity and can make and receive voice calls independently of a smartphone. It also features a stealth mode for silent activation of the duress alarm, which is particularly useful in situations when personal safety is being threatened.

Both devices are equipped with 4G connectivity and can operate independently without needing to connect to a smartphone. They have been customised to work with state governments and specialised domestic violence support programs, providing a discreet way for clients to activate a duress alarm in dangerous situations.

These products are part of mCare Digital’s commitment to offering support and protection for individuals affected by domestic violence, working in collaboration with state government agencies and community care organisations.

What are the specific roles that would benefit from using staff duress alarms?

Staff duress alarms are essential safety devices for a variety of professionals who may find themselves in vulnerable situations due to the nature of their work. Here’s a brief explanation of the types of roles that would benefit from using a staff duress alarm:

Lone Workers: Individuals who work alone, especially in remote or isolated areas, rely on staff duress alarms for safety. These workers may not have immediate access to help, making a duress alarm a critical tool for emergency situations.

Community Workers: Professionals who provide services in the community, such as social workers, home care providers, and utility workers, often enter unfamiliar environments and can face unpredictable risks. Staff duress alarms offer them a discreet way to call for assistance if needed.

Healthcare Professionals: Nurses, doctors, and other medical staff, particularly those working in mental health hospitals or conducting home visits, are at a higher risk of encountering aggressive behaviour or other forms of violence. Staff duress alarms ensure they can quickly alert security without escalating the situation.

Emergency Services: Paramedics and other emergency responders use duress alarms to ensure their safety when responding to calls, as they can sometimes arrive at scenes where the risk level is unknown or changes rapidly.

Domestic Violence Support: Staff working with individuals affected by domestic violence may use duress alarms to provide an additional layer of security for both them and the clients they are assisting.

In essence, staff duress alarms serve as a lifeline for staff who may face danger in their line of work, providing a simple yet effective means to summon help discreetly and promptly. The use of such duress alarms is a proactive measure to enhance the safety and well-being of employees across various sectors.

Staff duress alarms mCareWatch by mCare Digital
Staff Safety Solutions

Duress alarms – how do they work?

The device’s silent “stealth” mode allows the wearer to activate an SOS alert by pressing the SOS button, which activates the SOS and sends the alert directly to the 24/7 monitoring Bureau, who receive the alert and then immediately call into the device.

When the monitoring operator dials into the device, it will not make any sound but only vibrate when the call is automatically answered. The monitoring bureau operator will then listen, record, and respond to incidents without the wearer having to do anything. This is crucial for those affected by family and domestic violence who can activate the SOS alert discreetly and without alerting the perpetrator that they have activated an SOS.

In a genuine emergency, the monitoring bureau operator can locate the wearer’s location and access their profile details (address, physical description, perpetrator’s details and history of domestic violence). All this information is immediately passed onto the police, who are dispatched to the wearer’s location.

What are the benefits of our staff duress alarms?

Duress alarm devices such as the mCareWatch and the mCareMate emergency alarm pendant offer several benefits, particularly for personal safety and emergency response. Here are some key advantages:

  • Immediate Assistance: With the press of a button, these devices can send an SOS alert to a 24/7 monitoring bureau centre, ensuring rapid response to emergencies.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing that help is just a button-press away provides reassurance to the wearer and their family and employer.
  • Discreet Protection: Many duress alarms are designed to be discreet, allowing individuals to summon help without drawing attention or escalating a threatening situation.
  • Location Tracking: Equipped with GPS and Wi-Fi technology, these devices can provide real-time location data, which is crucial for locating the individual in distress.
  • Two-Way Communication: With 4G mobile connectivity and two-way communication, this enables the monitoring bureau the ability to dial into the device (discreetly and silently) and provide emergency response.
  • Versatility: Duress alarms can be tailored to various needs, such as fall detection for the elderly or integration with healthcare monitoring systems.
  • Integration into Everyday Life: These devices can be worn as regular accessories, making them a seamless part of the wearer’s daily routine.

Overall, duress alarm devices serve as a vital safety tool, providing a sense of security and empowerment to those who may face danger in their personal or professional lives.

Case Study: Innovative Duress Response at Catholic Healthcare Charles O’Neil Hostel


Catholic Healthcare Newcastle, a mental health hospital, faced a unique challenge in ensuring the safety of their nursing staff. Traditional staff duress alarms were not always practical due to the nature of patient interactions. In response, they adopted the mCareWatch smartwatch, equipped with a novel ‘gesture’ activation feature for SOS alerts.


Nurses at the facility often found themselves in situations where they could not physically press an SOS button due to patients potentially grabbing their arms. This limitation necessitated a solution that allowed for discreet and unobstructed activation of the duress alarm.


In collaboration with mCare Digital, Catholic Healthcare Newcastle developed a ‘gesture-based’ activation system. Nurses could now activate the SOS alert by simply shaking their hands 4 or 5 times. This motion would trigger a silent alert, notifying nearby staff members who could then quickly respond and assist.


Bluetooth beacons were installed in each room of the facility to enhance the system’s efficiency. These beacons facilitated precise location tracking, ensuring that help was directed to the exact location where the SOS was activated.


The implementation of the gesture-activated mCareWatch smartwatch has been a resounding success. Nurses reported feeling significantly safer, knowing they had a reliable means to summon help discreetly. The system proved effective on numerous occasions, reinforcing the hospital’s commitment to staff safety.


Catholic Healthcare Newcastle’s proactive approach to staff safety serves as a model for healthcare facilities worldwide. The innovative use of technology in the mCareWatch smartwatch has not only enhanced the security of nursing staff but also ensured uninterrupted care for patients.

If you are looking for reliable staff duress alarms, please contact us here. We also have a couple more case studies published on our ‘Personal Safety’ website page. You can read these and also how we help through our customised solutions via this LINK.