Ask the care expert: How can long-term care facilities receive deficiency-free surveys?

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Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA
Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA

How can facilities receive deficiency-free surveys? I have been in long-term care for two months and have not a clue how to achieve this goal.

If I could give you all the answers to this, I would be a very rich woman! What I can tell you is education is one of the best ways to achieve this goal, and also to practice best practices daily.

I feel many facilities get into trouble because they all primp up like a girl getting ready for their prom when they are in their “survey window,” and I think it is the worst thing they can do.

When you teach employees the right way to do something, it should not be for a show or only when you are in your survey window. It should be every minute of every day.

Once they do a procedure or med- pass the way it should be done all of the time, they will be comfortable and not nervous to do something they are not familiar with when a surveyor is standing there watching.

Having a stranger stare at you is bad enough, but when you are not familiar with the procedure, you are set up for failure. Therefore, I think you should:

• Have the paperwork required by the survey team done every day. You can update it daily so it is always ready.

• Practice proper care processes daily to get them ingrained.

• Do mock surveys with other department managers. Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees, so to speak, but if you looked at the kitchen or housekeeping and one of those managers looked at nursing, you could have someone on your side looking at the problems before your “friends” arrive.

• Offer education, education, education—and not just during daytime hours. You need to educate all the shifts on their time. When you educate in one area, don't think you are done. You need to follow up and re-educate.
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