Staff understanding of MDS Quality Indicators is 'mediocre at best,' study finds

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Frontline staff in long-term care facilities generally do not have a firm grasp on Minimum Data Set Quality Indicators, largely due to a lack of involvement with the MDS, according to a recently published survey.

Investigators at the University of Alabama sent a questionnaire to clinical leaders at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities nationwide. They received 289 responses, primarily from MDS coordinators and nurse managers.

Most respondents rated their frontline staff as having “good” to “fair” understanding of how the Quality Indicators are computed through MDS data, the researchers found. Lack of involvement with the MDS is the No. 1 barrier to greater understanding, the respondents indicated. Workers are often excluded from MDS processes, and there is a lack of training, the researchers found. Time constraints and problems with the MDS itself are less significant problems, according to the respondents.

Not all direct care staff need to understand QI computation, some clinical leaders stated. However, there was more widespread consensus that all staff should be involved in using QIs to inform care. In addition to actively involving all care staff in applying QIs, clinical leaders said basic education — and continuing education — could improve staff understanding that currently is “mediocre at best.”

Although the study focused on VA facilities, the authors said that their results likely apply to SNFs generally.

The findings appear in the Journal of Nursing Research.

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