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Facility Managers' Guide To Assisted Living Inspections

Facility Managers' Guide To Assisted Living Facilities Inspections

Assisted living facilities can be a huge help for residents and their families, but managing them comes with a unique set of challenges. Facility managers know that these facilities have to be held to a very high standard when it comes to guaranteeing the health and safety of their residents, and so must undergo regular inspections to make sure they comply with regulations.

What does an inspection entail?

During an inspection, a team of surveyors (including a registered nurse) will go over staff/resident interactions, resident care processes, safety, and security measures, and how well the facility adheres to food safety and fire regulations. OSHA compliance is another key aspect of these inspections, and healthcare workers are at a very high risk of experiencing job-related illness and injury. The primary goal of this process isn't to point fingers and place blame if things aren't up to snuff, it's to make things safer and healthier for residents and workers alike. Facility managers who take adequate steps to follow regulations and ensure that their employees are well prepared will have no reason to be afraid of inspections. To help with this process, here are a few guidelines for passing inspection with flying colors:

Document everything.

When the inspectors arrive, they are going to ask for a lot of very detailed information and, if it isn't available, it can make you look disorganized. Having everything documented and ready will be a huge help here -- not only will it look better, but it'll also take a lot of pressure off of workers since they won't have to scramble to get everything together. Using facility management software can make the process even easier by keeping all of your maintenance and repair records in an easy-to-manage format.

Make sure employees are prepared.

The time leading up to inspection can be stressful, and it doesn't need to be. Make sure that employees get regular training to keep them up-to-date on the regulations they need to follow. Performing regular inspection drills can be a big help here since they will let facility managers know exactly what deficiencies need to be corrected before the actual inspections take place. Facilities that participate in Medicaid or Medicare must comply with Medicaid/Medicare care requirements.

Make sure residents and visitors are prepared.

Staff/resident interactions are a big part of assisted living facility inspections, so the surveyors are allowed to talk to anyone in the facility -- including residents and their visitors. So, not only should facility managers work to make sure their employees are ready for the inspection, but they should also let residents and their families know what to expect. This will make it less disruptive for the residents, and allow the surveyors to collect better data.

Keep safety features updated.

Safety is a major issue in assisted living facilities, for residents and workers alike. Slips and falls are common among the elderly, and half of all injuries to employees of assisted living facilities are musculoskeletal issues. A good facility should have the regulation number of assistive devices, lifts, and enough battery backup to ensure that employees aren't required to manually lift or move residents, as well as handrails and other resident safety features.

Know which items are a priority for inspectors.

It's important to make sure that everything's up to code, but some deficiencies are more severe than others. Have a good idea of which areas are a priority, and make sure they never fall behind. Ensure that handrails are present in every corridor, firmly attached, and free of any sharp edges, rust, nails, or splinters. Rooms that house more than one occupant must have privacy curtains that are long enough and able to be kept clean. Doors must adhere to guidelines for thickness, material, and fire rating. If you aren't sure what will be prioritized during an inspection, contact the state's licensing agency for more information. Once you know, create an inspection checklist to help keep on top of the areas most likely to result in a serious deficiency.

What happens next?

If an inspection finds a deficiency, it will be recorded. Then, the survey team must determine how severe the deficiency is, as well as whether it has the potential to result in immediate harm, and whether it is an isolated incident or part of a pattern of negligence. After that, deficiencies must be corrected. Violations may be punished with fines, revoking Medicaid/Medicare certifications, transferring residents to other facilities, or sending in temporary new management. It should be noted that allegations alone are not enough evidence of a deficiency. They must be backed up by records, observation, or corroborating interviews with residents, visitors, or staff before they can be recorded. Inspections can be intimidating, but they don't have to be scary or stressful. As long as facility managers keep on top of employee training and ensure that their facilities adhere to health and safety regulations, there's really nothing to worry about. All the survey team wants to do is ensure that residents and employees stay safe and healthy, and inspections are a great way to make sure that assisted living facilities are able to meet everyone's needs.

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