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Assisted Living Facilities: Preparing for Inspections

Chris Murray
Posted on: March 26, 2018 by Chris Murray

It is absolutely imperative that nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and all other healthcare facilities be run up to a certain standard, both for resident health and safety and worker safety. Because of this, these facilities are subject to regular inspections in order to ensure that they are in compliance with state and federal regulations. If facilities are not properly prepared for these inspections, not only will they be subject to penalties from their respective governing agencies, but it is a clear sign that they are not operating up to standard.

Inspection Contents

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are overseen by their state governments for licensing purposes, and facilities with Medicare and Medicaid programs are required by federal law to submit to annual inspections and certifications, referred to as “state survey”. This survey assesses whether the facility is providing the level of care mandated by the law and residents’ needs, and facilities found in violation can be subject to penalties such as fines, resident transfers, new temporary management, and certification revocation.

The survey looks at multiple areas in the facility to assess the quality of care, and the inspection is performed by a team of trained inspectors including at least one registered nurse. The team inspects areas that include the following:

  • Resident care processes
  • Staff and resident interactions
  • The care environment
  • Food safety (storage and preparation)
  • Whether the home meets fire codes for safe construction

In addition to state surveys, it is also imperative that facilities be in compliance with OSHA regulations and be prepared for inspections in that area, as nurses and nursing assistants are professionals that report some of the highest rates of on-the-job illness. In 2015, OSHA released a memorandum that established a more stringent set of requirements relating to key hazards for musculoskeletal disorders, resident handling, workplace violence, bloodborne pathogens, tuberculosis, and slips, trips and falls.

According to OSHA data from 80,000 healthcare facilities, it is estimated that half of all injuries to nursing home employees involve musculoskeletal disorders. The memorandum requires that nursing homes and assisted living facilities have a proper number of lifts, assistive devices and accessories for residents requiring lifts, and enough charged batteries to power said assistive devices in order to prevent manual handling.

Tips for Success

In addition to implementing safe practices throughout the home, assisted living facilities should take action to prepare their staff and residents for an inspection. Every facility should create a checklist of the following information, which can relieve their stress and ensure that they will be prepared for their inspection:

  • Update all safety features. From a purely objective standpoint, there are certain features that every facility must have in order to be safe and comfortable for their residents. One key element is handrails, which are required to be firmly secured and outfitted on the sides of hallways and corridors, as well as safe to hold on to (no splinters, sharp edges, rust, or loose rails). Privacy curtains are also required in multiple-occupancy rooms and are subject to regulations about length and cleanliness. Doors also must be in line with requirements for thickness, material, and fire rating. Knowing which features are a priority for inspections will help a facility to keep their residents safe and take care of some measures before the inspection even occurs.
  • Have everything written and organized for the surveyors. Having everything written and documented will help the facility’s staff members to feel more organized leading up to the survey, and when the inspection occurs, the surveyors are likely to ask for a great deal of specific information. Having it organized, consolidated, and easily accessible will take a significant amount of stress away.
  • Ensure everyone is prepared. Surveys are not just limited to staff members: surveyors can talk to anyone in the facility, including residents and their visitors. For this reason, facilities should make sure that they are properly communicating to staff members of all departments as well as their residents and their family members what the survey process will be like. It is recommended that facilities regularly run mock inspections in order to prepare everyone and to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie.
  • Regularly update staff members on training. One of the benefits of mock surveys is that weak spots will be obvious. Facilities should take their survey results and adjust their training in order to help their staff members with procedures that they may not be completely perfect with. Even if there is not an upcoming inspection, regular training will keep facility staff in-the-know when it comes to their responsibilities.

About Caitlin Morgan

Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at 317.575.4440.

Posted in: Assisted Living Facility Insurance blog