Navigating the Surveyor Staffing Crunch: How Polaris Mock Surveys Can Help Long-Term Care Facilities Prepare

Polaris Group Profile
Polaris Group
July 26, 2023
July 26, 2023
Polaris Group Profile
Polaris Group
July 26, 2023

The impact of staffing shortages could impact your survey results -delays in timely completion, questionable citations, and more.

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It’s not just nursing homes facing staffing shortages. State public health departments are feeling the staffing crunch in nursing home surveyor positions.

In an article recently published in Skilled Nursing News, widespread surveyor shortages and high rates of turnover were reported.

The impact: delays in timely completion of surveys, questionable citations issued by inexperienced teams, and increased tensions between operators and surveyors.

Long term care is an industry built on trust, long-standing relationships and mutual respect between providers and survey teams.  With survey agencies sharing the recruitment struggles of the rest of the world, nursing home providers are realizing that well-established relationships may be a thing of the past.

Having less experienced surveyors often translates to extended timelines, higher levels of scope and severity assigned to deficiencies, and more frequent inaccurate citations. The culmination of these factors places undue stress on staff members who are trying to regain strength and traction in the post-pandemic recovery process.

States are continuing to actively recruit new talent to fill open surveyor roles. In the meantime, surveyor staffing shortages have created difficulties in completing facility annual recertification surveys, particularly in light of the COVID backlog created by the moratorium on surveys during the pandemic. Survey timelines are now behind by as much as 24 months.

How Polaris Mock Surveys Can Help Facilities Prepare

In a time when there is greater uncertainty about how the survey process will occur, one way to manage the unpredictability is through a mock survey.

Mock surveys thoroughly review your facility to identify weaknesses and help you plan corrective actions. There is simply no better way to know your opportunities for improvement than by actively looking for and deeply understanding them.

Surveyors will review six major categories in a nursing home survey:

  • Resident Rights
  • Program Services
  • Nutrition and Food Services
  • Physical Environment/Safety
  • Medication
  • Staff Training

A Polaris mock survey will review these same exact categories and will supplement with these benefits:

  • Polaris mock surveyors bring an objective perspective. Mock surveys are up to date with trends across geographic region, understand what surveyors are focused on, and can prepare your facility for the latest areas of emphasis coming from surveyors.
  • Polaris mock surveyors bring past work experience as surveyors and also as operators. They understand both worlds and can prepare your facility to speak the language of surveyors.
  • Polaris mock surveyors review policies and procedures and will share best practices to improve efficiencies in your facility.
  • Polaris mock surveyors are teachers at heart. They can train your staff on new procedures, updated policies, and how best to respond to surveyor questions.

Anyone who has joined the long-term care industry in the last three years has only lived through COVID-19 infection control focused surveyors. Many employees have yet to experience a re-certification survey. These two types of surveys are very different. Mock surveys will prepare staff for recertification by offering unparalleled educational opportunities.

Your time is limited. As a mock surveyor working for you, our training time is not. And with the high cost of citations, a mock survey that prevents citations pays for itself.

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