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CareWork Helps SNFs Manage Amid Tighter CMS Restrictions

On the last day of February, McKnights Long-Term Care News reported on the latest round of enforcement measures for skilled nursing facilities by CMS. Included in the changes, the Biden Administration is asking Congress to increase CMS’s survey budget by 25%. That’s 500 million dollars to expand CMS’s inspection capacity.

Let this blog be one of the first to say that the money might have been better spent in other places where it could aid SNFs instead of making life more difficult. That’s not the sentiment in Congress, though, when it comes to working with those entities that are charged with caring for the nation’s elderly.

Part of the blame also falls on the industry. We’ve been slow to adapt to the elements that can make our business smarter, more focused, and more profitable.

CareWork is your first step in changing this. Let’s look at staffing as just one example because it affects other areas.

CareWork Helps SNF Staffing

Within a year, CMS will establish new staffing requirements for SNFs. Additionally, there will be changes to the Value-Based Purchasing Program based on staffing, resident experience, and staff retention.

CareWork can help manage these challenges. CareWork staffing reports will incorporate the new CMS requirements so that staffing schedulers and management know when census changes and other factors create staffing shortages on a shift. CareWork provides at-a-glance reports of personnel and scheduled hours and automates turnover and retention reporting.

CareWork provides a centralized view of all employee schedules. Schedulers can see which employees have light schedules and are likely to be eager for the extra hours. More thoughtful scheduling also means employees are not overworked. They are better rested, and there is less risk of a mistake or error in judgment caused by an overworked employee.

You may still be paying the overtime, but you are doing it smarter by decreasing mistakes by overworked staff. Morale is better, too, because everyone feels like you’re sharing the overtime wealth. CareWork also allows you to do predictive analytics so you can ask, “What if?” What if you hired another full-time employee? Would it solve a recurring overtime issue?

More importantly, you can dive deep into the data and see trends. Have you inadvertently placed too many residents with special needs in one building? Perhaps you need to shift the resident census to better manage the care needed. Is there a training issue that places undue burdens on staff members? These are things you can see with CareWork.

CareWork Frees SNF Staff to Provide Better Resident Care

Part of the burden on staff is the sheer volume of record-keeping needed to operate in an efficient manner.

This is also important because all too often, it is not a matter of inadequate staffing levels but maintaining accurate and reliable records that prove to CMS inspectors that you are in compliance. If you are cobbling reports together from several different databases, there is a greater chance for an error in reporting.

There are many tools out there to increase efficiency in different areas, such as electronic health records, scheduling, time and attendance, learning, procurement, and more. While these tools are needed and offer a lot, sometimes, the number of systems and technologies can overwhelm employees because they don’t talk to each other. CareWork brings existing systems together, so that leadership and management have a 360-degree view of the SNF operation.

By supplying your staff with this technology, you reduce the stress burden. You allow them to spend more time providing meaningful care to residents.

Operators need an engaged workforce to provide residents and families the quality of care they deserve. By leveraging technologies that automate and simplify everyday processes, you help alleviate that stress and create an environment where employees feel supported.

Supported and happy employees are more likely to remain.

Better Outcomes to Show CMS

Poor outcomes are not an issue of negligent staff as often as they are one of just not having enough time.

In a post a few months ago, we quoted Beth Burnham Mace, NIC's Chief Economist, on how to address the labor market challenges that exist today. Among these strategies, she emphasizes that SNFs need to "employ technology to improve work efficiencies so staff can spend more time with residents to improve quality and quantity of care."

A January 2020 investigation by JAMA reinforces this sentiment (note that this is pre-COVID) and revealed that missing and rushing care tasks were a common occurrence in nursing homes. For their most recent shift in January 2020, 2,306 care aides (57.4%) reported missing at least one care task, and 2,628 care aides (65.4%) reported rushing at least one care task. The most frequently missed task was taking residents for a walk, which 1,492 care aides (37.2%) reported missing. The most frequently rushed task was talking with residents of which 1,977 care aides (49.2%) reported rushing.

Performing mouth care was missed by 567 care aides (14.1%) and rushed by 1,580 care aides (39.3%). Other care tasks, such as toileting, preparing residents for sleep, bathing residents, feeding residents, and dressing residents were each missed by less than 10% of care aides but were each rushed by more than 30% of care aides.

Given the tightening that has gone on in the senior care labor market, these numbers are likely to be more alarming today, two years later.

This is not an issue of negligence by SNF workers as much as it is an issue of not having the time. If managers are not burdened with the work of record-keeping in inefficient programs, they can devote more effort to working with staff and making sure the tasks are getting done that make a difference in the resident experience.

CareWork Can Help

CareWork is the first holistic operational platform for long-term and post-acute care providers. We connect the systems you already use, tie your data together, and give you a 360-degree view of all operational areas using combined information.

Now your management teams have exactly what they need to catch problems before they happen, work faster, and hit their targets—all in one place. Visit our website today and see how we can help you work smarter and more profitably.

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