Credit: Hinterhaus Productions

Staffing, reimbursement and regulatory pressures may have given providers a black eye in 2022, but leaders well-versed in regulatory expectations will be ready to rise to new challenges in 2023.

That’s according to care expert Trish Richardson, MSN, RN, who led a webinar Wednesday on how providers can use lessons from a tough 2022 to forge a successful year ahead.

It pays to know regulators’ tendencies, said Richardson, the president-elect of the North Carolina Nurses Association and director of post-acute care solutions for training and education specialist Relias.

“Surveyors are looking for evidence of unplanned and increased weight loss, loss of function or mobility, pressure injuries and more,” Richardson told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News in a post-event interview. “Now is the time to take an introspective perspective and identify where you stand today.”

Providers can strengthen programs and compliance on their own, she emphasized. To improve workforce quality and resident care, for example, providers should survey residents themselves, and also find leaders on staff who will champion any changes administrators may want to make in 2023, and beyond. When it comes to the surveying of residents, she recommends managers take the lead.

“An opportunity to improve person-centered care has been newly presented,” she said. “Intentional leader rounding is a powerful tool in all healthcare environments. An administrator or director of nursing can round on their residents and ask open-ended questions to assess their perspective on caregiver performance.”

She also advised nurse leaders to inspect their environment. Taking a shopper’s eye to cleanliness, the disposition of linens and call cords, and whether residents feel they’re informed enough can be very instructive, Richardson explained.

The increased regulatory rigor initiated when President Biden targeted nursing homes in a 19-second State of The Union call-out is sure to continue next year, Richardson noted. But the sector’s staffing crisis has added even more pressure by limiting admissions, leaving workers exhausted and straining budgets like never before in Richardson’s 30-year career.

Meanwhile, the average time to fill jobs with the best qualified candidates is three months, she said.

“I’ve had people tell me, consistently, we’re hiring 10, 15 people, and you might get eight that show up for orientation. By the time orientation is finished you may only have four people go to the floor,” explained Richardson. “You’re working crazy hard to bring in the best of the best, but you’re only seeing a small percentage of those individuals actually stay on.”

Although her webinar presentation was titled “2023: The Year Ahead for Post-Acute Care,” Richardson sought to educate with a look back at 2022, with all of its policy changes, oversight priorities and financial challenges. Despite headwinds, Richardson said she is upbeat for the coming year.

“Absolutely, without question, optimistic,” she told McKnight’s. “Post-acute care leaders across the country are passionate about providing exceptional care. And I’m not just talking about formal leaders, I’m including all caregivers. While post-acute care is experiencing unprecedented levels of oversight today with more promised in the coming years, I am confident our PAC leaders will be ready.”