Practice sessions can pay off during surveys, expert claims

Share this content:
Jo Walters, RN-C, CDONA, CP
Jo Walters, RN-C, CDONA, CP

Directors of nursing need to lead their employees through survey practice sessions in order to achieve peak success, a long-term care expert said at the annual National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration in Long-Term Care conference.

Jo Walters, RN-C, CDONA, CP, currently the wellness director at Blanchard House (Assisted Living Concepts) in Kenton, OH, said it's important for staff to “put their best foot forward” when the surveyors arrive.

That means, “practice, practice, practice,” she advised attendees at the NADONA annual meeting in June in Las Vegas. Start by visiting potential problem areas to review. 

“I always ask [nurses]: Would you spend a night here, and would you eat the food?” she said. “Surveyors know that the kitchens tend to be bad.”

But employees themselves can be their own worst enemy, Walters said. 

 “You do not know what people will say when nervous,” Walters noted.   

The biggest problem Walters sees is “a lack of preparation, before and after,” she told McKnight's.

Before the surveyor arrives, she recommends the director of nursing wear a sign that says “surveyor” and walk through the facility. Teach employees to say “I'll find out” if they don't know an answer to a question, rather than “I don't know.”

After the visit, the response to the survey should start immediately. That may include making large charts listing problem areas and each staff member. For example, each nurse may need to successfully complete a med pass three times before being checked off, Walters said.

“A lot of times [DONs] do the plan of correction, but they don't practice it,” she said. “Full-time staff has to know, and to practice skills validation. You don't do it once.”