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Improve Quality and Eliminate Deficiencies with a Mock Survey

October 19, 2016
Healthcare Consulting By LW Consulting Inc.

MockSurvey.jpgA facility self-assessment, or mock survey as it is often called, provides nursing home administrators with the opportunity to assess systems, procedures and processes of care. Are staff operating at the highest level possible? Are there compliance or high-risk problem areas to address? What's happening in day-to-day operations? Mock surveys offer a realistic and honest view of these areas.

According to Care Pathways, there are over 73,000 inspection reports for more than 16,000 US-based nursing facilities available online. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that in 2014, the most common deficiencies were given for failures in infection control, accident and environmental conditions, food sanitation, quality of care, and unnecessary drugs. Furthermore, one in five facilities received a deficiency for harm or jeopardy of a patient. It’s time to start addressing these areas before a surveyor comes knocking at your door. Below are four reasons why engaging with a consultant to conduct a mock survey is the best way to prepare for the real thing and improve quality of care.

  1. Get a fresh look at systems and procedures from an outside perspective
    Many facilities elect to conduct their own mock surveys. While this admirable and should be integrated into routine operations, oftentimes an internal mock survey team may overlook valuable information an outsider would pick up on. Consultants specifically trained in compliance and risk-factor areas know what to look for; and more importantly, they think like a healthcare facility surveyor would. Experienced consultants possess an understanding of state and federal regulations. They are knowledgeable in areas of leadership, clinical practice and procedures and can suggest and help you implement systems that address quality of care, staff performance and patient safety.

  2. Prepare for accreditation
    Mock surveys are often used in the preparation of accreditation, be it traditional long term care accreditation or Medicare/Medicaid certification-based. When a facility seeks or renews their accreditation, surveyors from the accreditation authority are sent to assess the facility in a number of different areas: leadership and staff attentiveness; documentation, care coordination and patient education; infection control and environmental hazards; equipment use and maintenance; medication and clinical supplies; and medication management. Accreditation surveys are typically unannounced, so a mock survey helps the facility to prepare for the real thing.

  3. Identify weaknesses in staff performance
    When state and federal surveyors visit facilities, they are looking to make sure staff are aware and educated in their roles. In a healthcare setting, engaged employees are the backbone of the organization. Quality of care and resident satisfaction depends on staff interaction. State and federal surveyors will assess whether or not staff are aware of care orders. Do they understand the patient's needs? How do they interact with patients? How long does it take for staff to respond to and/or assist a patient? How do they carry themselves within the facility? Working with an unbiased and experienced consultant to identify weaknesses or areas of needed improvement will offer insight into whether or not there could be a potential staffing issue within your facility or if there is a need for additional education.

  4. Offer patients and their family members a platform to speak their mind
    In an actual state or federal inspection, patients and sometimes family members will be interviewed; therefore, it's helpful to unpack the perception and opinion of others—particularly those receiving the care. Mock surveys conducted by a third-party allow patients to express their opinions more freely, without fear of intimidation. The survey will provide awareness in areas that could otherwise be overlooked if conducted by an internal team. Do patients feel cared for and safe? Do they feel like their privacy is of the utmost concern to members of the care team? Are they afforded with opportunities for social engagement? Do they have a choice in ADL care delivery? Surveyors will use the answers to these and other questions to get an idea of life and culture within the facility. Discoveries during the personal interviews can become the basis for deficiencies. So be proactive. Use the mock survey process as a tool to address issues before the state and federal surveyors come knocking.

Contact LW Consulting to learn how we can help you prepare for accreditation, uncover potential risk areas and improve quality of care with a mock survey.