Preparing for State Inspection/Surveys for Immediate Care Facilities and Living Centers

To ensure immediate care facilities (like assisted living facilities and state-supported living centers) are complying with state and federally mandated regulations, there are annual—and in some states, semiannual—inspections or “surveys”.  

These are typically conducted by the Department of Health or whichever department is responsible for issuing licenses in your state.

So what’s the process like and how can your healthcare facility prepare for an inspection? Let’s take a look.

What’s Involved in an Inspection

Inspections are carried out by a team of professional inspectors who will assess several areas of your facility, including the following:

  • Resident care processes (and staff-resident interactions)
  • Food safety (including food storage and preparation areas)
  • Resident care environment
  • Fire code checks

The goal is to ensure that you’re maintaining a safe living space for staff and residents and that it complies with the state’s codes. Even if your facility is within the parameters of code compliance, inspectors will often point out how you can improve and make the spaces safer and more accessible, which is a good thing and will help your facility level up.

Tips for Passing an Upcoming Inspection

The last thing you want for you and your staff is to scramble at the last minute to be prepared for an upcoming inspection. Be proactive and take care to ensure your facility is always moving in the direction of compliance. 

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Staff training. Whether it’s part of an onboarding process for new hires or conducting an overview session, get in the habit of training your staff regularly about current best practices and procedures as well as upcoming changes to their responsibilities. 
  • Include everyone. Inspectors have the right (and obligation) to speak with anyone within a facility, not just staff members. They may reach out and question residents and even visitors, which is why it’s important to communicate efficiently with everyone involved. For example, while staff should be knowledgeable about their respective duties and other facility procedures, family members and residents should be aware of updates in policies that relate to them or safety procedures of the building. 
  • Keep safety features updated. Be sure to adhere to your state’s guidelines when it comes to keeping your facility safe and up to code. This may include elements like handrails being firmly secured to all hallways, doors having a specified thickness and material, and so on. Have a good understanding of what’s required by your state in keeping your facility safe as well as their priority level to ensure you pass the inspection. 
  • Document. Working in a healthcare facility, you’re probably already aware of the importance of keeping good documentation, and doing so will help when it comes time for inspections. Inspectors like to ask a lot of questions and gather very specific information about your facility, so make your life easy by keeping everything well-documented and organized for when the time comes.

While inspections most often occur on a yearly basis, remember that a complaint submitted by a resident, family member, or another concerned party could result in an immediate investigation, so it’s best to be prepared. You don’t have to get ready if you’re always ready!

With that said, adhering to the rules and guidelines dictated by the health department isn’t just about avoiding fees and penalties. It’s about maintaining the high standards expected by your staff, residents, and family members.

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