CMS Issues Significant Updates to Improve the Safety and Quality Care for Long-Term Care Residents and Calls for Reducing Room Crowding

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

In case you missed yesterday’s breaking news, CMS also posted this Press Release which is the title of this blog. This Press Release is another must-read document.  I’ve excerpted key elements of that below.

  • To begin helping address the staffing issue while the rulemaking process is underway, CMS added new requirements for surveyors to incorporate the use of Payroll Based Journal staffing data for their inspections. This will help better identify potential noncompliance with CMS’s nurse staffing requirements, such as lack of a registered nurse for eight hours each day, or lack of licensed nursing for 24 hours a day. This guidance will help to uncover instances of insufficient staffing and yield higher quality care
  • With emerging infectious diseases such as COVID-19, CMS believes that the role of the Infection Preventionist (IP) is critical in the facility’s efforts to mitigate the onset and spread of infections. Using lessons learned from the pandemic, CMS is providing further guidance requiring each facility to have an IP who has specialized training to effectively oversee the facility’s infection prevention and control program—in accord with President Biden’s campaign commitment to ensure facilities have sufficient on-site IPs.
  • The updates also contain improvements to CMS guidance for mental health and substance use disorder, and builds upon the agency’s Behavioral Health Strategy to better meet the unique needs of LTC facility residents with mental health and substance use challenges. CMS also clarified the minimum level of knowledge and skills of facility staff to ensure that the policies and practices do not conflict with resident rights or other participation requirements.
  • CMS has highlighted the benefits of reducing the number of residents in each room for preventing infections and the importance of residents’ rights to privacy and homelike environment. The pandemic has further proven the risk of contracting infection diseases in rooms with several residents. CMS is urging providers to consider making changes to their settings to allow for a maximum of double occupancy in each room and encouraging facilities to explore ways to allow for more single occupancy rooms for nursing home residents.
  • CMS will hold nursing homes accountable and make the quality of care and facility ownership more transparent so that potential residents and their loved ones can make informed decisions about care.

CMS QSO-22-19-NH memorandumThe online SOM will be updated on or after October 24, 2022, when these changes go into effect.  Surveyors will begin using the guidance and changes, which will be incorporated into the survey process on October 24, 2022.