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SHC Blog

What 20+ Items Caught SHC's Attention for the Week?

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Even during a busy holiday week, our world was filled with information, news, and inspiration as we wind-down 2012.

Simmons Healthcare Consulting, LLC Blog Posts - 

Other news, information, inspiration, and groups - 

As we close out 2012 and move into 2013, this is the perfect time to look at customer service trends. Customers are better educated about what good service looks like and their expectations are higher than ever. --Shep Hyken via Take a SmileRICK PHELP’S (Memory People) New Book Available Now! “While I Still Can” "The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected" by Robert FrostCute Elderly Couple
Choices, Chances, Changes You must make a Choice to take a Chance. Our your life will never Change.Hospice is one of those words that people say quietly, afraid that by saying it too loud, we might call forth its need. Yet hospice is nothing to be afraid of in the world of caregiving. In fact, hospice is an underutilized service that can bring comfort and compassion to your loved one and your whole family. It can be a source of emotional support during a very difficult time. via Senior Care SocietyDon't forget to contact Simmons Healthcare Consulting, LLC for your Social Service, Activities, QMRP nursing facility consulting needs in 2013!  www.simmonshc.comChristmas Eve Greetings from Simmons Healthcare Consulting, LLC

Need assistance with your Social Service or Activity department?  Is your nursing facility in compliance with QMRP visits?  Contact Simmons Healthcare Consulting, LLC at (260) 894-1417 or, and we'll schedule a visit to help continue improving Quality of Life services for your residents.

Have a great week everyone!

Customer Service - How Long-Term Care Can Learn from Hotels

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Came across an interesting article this morning (thanks to Shep Hyken and his Facebook page) from Huffington Post - "2012's Great Moments in Hotel Customer Service" by Kristen McKenzie,  Worth a quick read.  Many might be wondering why we are posting an article about hotels on a blog devoted to long-term care...

The reason is simple, customer service.  

A comment made by a dietary aide to me in 1994 has always stuck with me and I was reminded of it when I read the above article - referring to a resident, "Where does she think she is?  This isn't the Ritz".  I would challenge that maybe it should be.  The daily rate, pharmacy charges, and supplies/treatments for most residents are higher than the nightly rate at many hotels.  We are in an industry where budgets are becoming tighter, reimbursement rates are shrinking, and people are choosing to "age-in-place" as long as they can do so. Maybe it's time to capitalize on cost-effective actions that everyone on the team can perform and produce effective outcomes.  

Because of the Quality of Life (Social Service, Activities, QMRP) consulting that SHC does, I have had the wonderful opportunity to visit dozens and dozens of nursing facilities and hotels across the country.  I've witnessed some fantastic demonstrations of homes that know how to do it right and I'm loyal to the hotels that provide me with nice customer service.  Facilities that make a person smile when they visit, feel good about what's happening, and want to come back.  Isn't that what we want from our customers? 

Without our direct customers (aka Residents and families), we have no business.  Many long-term care companies and nursing facilities 'talk' about giving great customer service and some succeed in an amazing way.  Others still should keep it as a focused area of opportunity.  Many will state that they don't have the time because they are focused on census.  I would suggest that focusing on customer service will assist greatly with census.  Except for the small facilities in very rural communities, families have multiple nursing facilities to choose from in most markets.  Potential residents and families' experiences when they visit friends or volunteer at your building, talk to neighbors, and simple word-of-mouth can go further than any advertising Marketing Directors do.  

  • Saying "Welcome" when visitors enter, "Hello" when we pass them in the hall, "Thanks for coming" as they leave.
  • Being on-time for Care Conference meetings.
  • Returning phone calls and messages in a timely manner.
  • Responding to grievances and concerns.
  • Taking a few minutes to really listen to residents' and families' feelings about adjustment / issues.
  • Intervening when staff are showing signs of 'burn-out'
  • Residents, families, visitors, volunteers, vendors, suppliers, physicians, employees, hospitals, specialty providers - the list goes on - all can be a potential referral source, all should have a 'great' customer service experience.

Your team works hard, don't forget to let the public see it; we all are in this field because we truly love what we do, don't forget to let the public know it!

What are some of the outstanding ways you or your facility provide 'great' customer service?  Share them with us!

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Starting to Wrap Up 2012, Is Your #SNF Ready for 2013?

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2012 is ending with what is sure to be an outstanding 2013 just around the corner.  

  • Is your building QIS-survey-ready for 2013?  
  • Are your Social Service and Activities departments as ready as you think?  
  • Do you know if your nursing facility is in compliance with QMRP visits?
  • Does Staff Development have their mandatory in-services scheduled yet for 2013 along with speakers for specific topics?  
  • Are grievance logs and Resident Council concerns completed?
  • Is there a system in place for annual Dementia Training in 2013?
  • Do Social Service or Activity forms need updated to improve outcomes and time management?
  • Is your Behavior Management Program being utilized?
  • Are there vacations or maternity leaves scheduled for 2013 that need interim Social Service coverage?
  • Are you satisfied with the results you are receiving from your current consultant?

Simmons Healthcare Consulting, LLC, can assist with solutions to any of the above issues and so much more.  Our Services page lists just a sampling of how SHC can provide cost-effective consulting assistance.  Contact us at (260) 894-1417 or for your Quality of Life (Social Service, Activities, QMRP) needs.

Have a great almost-end-of-the-week!

Wait, You Mean Today Isn't Monday?

Definitely feels like a Monday for many of us who were fortunate to have an extra-long weekend.  Today will be spent playing 'catch-up' for most, returning voice mail and email, squeezing in meetings, quick interviews with new residents, and charting at a record pace.  And of course, trying to stay one-step ahead of the MDS folks!

Social Services - If you can find 10 minutes (and I encourage you to 'make' 10 minutes), do a quick set of rounds with your residents who might not of had an outstanding holiday week so far.  Observe their interaction, listen to their comments and feelings, ask coworkers whether they have noticed any changes in the resident's routine.

Activities - As you're putting the final touches on the January calendar and possibly taking a long overdue breath from the craziness that is December, remember to thank your volunteers and community groups that assisted at your nursing facility this month.

Nursing - While you are passing medication and providing treatments, interact with your residents who have had family visitors this week.  Ask them to share and then enjoy the smile that will inevitably take over their face.  The conversations will make you smile in return.

And for the Administrators and other department heads - Say a simple 'thank you' to your staff who worked yesterday.  We all know when we sign up for a healthcare career that working on the holidays is expected, but a verbal acknowledge of their dedication can be a welcome sound.

As for Simmons Healthcare Consulting, LLC - We are in the initial stages of establishing Pinterest and Google + pages.  They both are in pretty raw form at this point, but we welcome those who would like to take a peek and follow us already.  We will be adding a 'Social Media' page to the website soon so that those who are interested can follow us easily.  

Sending safe travel wishes to our Indiana colleagues today with the blizzard!

Christmas Eve Greetings from Simmons Healthcare Consulting, LLC

Simmons Healthcare Consulting, LLC -Providing Quality of Life (Social Service, Activities, QMRP) consulting services to the long-term care industry -

What Caught SHC's Attention This Past Week?

Long-term care information round-up from this past week - 

SHC Blog Posts - 

Other articles, organizations, and sites that SHC found interesting - 

Need assistance with your Social Service or Activity department?  Is your nursing facility in compliance with QMRP visits?  Contact Simmons Healthcare Consulting, LLC, and we'll schedule a visit to help continue improving Quality of Life services for your residents.
Have a great week everyone!

Are You Needing Smart Solutions for Your LTC Facility?

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Clicking on the images should enable a larger view - 

A Bond Between Marketing and Activities in LTC, Strange Concept or Smart Decision?

I came across this blog post and am quite interested in your thoughts - "A Different Kind of Activity Program" by Steve Moran on Senior Housing Forum (@SeniorForum).  The post is part two of a 2-part series, the first was "Let Us Entertain You to Death".  Administrators, long-term care Marketers, and Activity Directors, if you happen to find a free 5-minute break during this busy weekend, take a moment to read both of these blog posts.

  • What are we doing right with our LTC activity programs?
  • Is Bingo your facility's most attended activity?  Was Bingo the resident's most attended activity prior to admission?  If it wasn't, then why is it now?
  • Where are there areas of opportunity for improvement?
  • Is your activity department adequately staffed?  Really?  
  • Do corporations and boards of directors understand the potential benefits of the department?
  • As we begin the next 5-10 years and expect to see an even bigger increase in baby boomers, will the current structure of activities be tolerated?
  • Have you recently changed your programming?  And if so, are you seeing positive results?
  • How often are we asking for feedback from our residents and families?  Not simply the standard activity assessment, but open-ended questions about how they would like to spend their day now.
  • Activity Directors - if you had an unlimited budget (lol), how would you change your programming?  
  • Are there ways to think outside-the-box and still implement your wishlist of programming without bankrupting the facility?
  • What is the relationship between your activity program and admissions? (Possibly one of the most overlooked aspects of marketing by many facilities.)

As for the educational requirements of an Activity Director - Although I understand the author's rationale, I would strongly caution the industry not to hastily jump on board.  I know that there are many in long-term care that would disagree with me on this (including NASW), but I have witnessed what happened when arbitrary educational requirements were placed on Social Service staff.  The industry lost outstanding, caring, dedicated people.  There are ways to 'raise-the-bar' without alienating current activities staff (i.e. grandfather clauses). 

Your thoughts on activity programming, educational requirements, the referred to blog post?  Feel free to comment, I am truly interested in feedback.

Need assistance with your Quality of Life (Social Service, Activities, QMRP) services?  Contact SHC and we'll schedule a visit to help your nursing facility continue improving care.  Have a fabulous weekend!

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Recent ISDH and CMS Updates / Resources for Nursing Facilities

Several important pieces of information to pass on to our long-term care followers today - 

  • ISDH (Indiana State Department of Health) has recently increased the number of survey areas to 10. They have released an updated map and the roster of surveyor assignments / supervisors.  If you need assistance obtaining the new map and roster, send us an email ( and we'll get that information to you in the form of a Word document.

  • CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) has stated that under healthcare reform there must be regulations requiring nursing facilities to have an effective compliance and ethics program by March 23, 2013.  CMS is expected to publish a 'draft' regulation by December 31, 2012.  
  • The "Hand in Hand" training materials should be arriving to nursing facilities shortly from CMS.  If you're not familiar, the program focuses on person-centered care for residents with Dementia and abuse prevention.  All facilities are supposed to receive one free copy of the training program.  SHC would like to hear feedback from facilities once you review the toolkit.  Contact SHC if you need assistance with implementation of the program.  
  • The most recent information that SHC has on the top F-tag citations for Indiana - F441 (Infection Control), F323 (Supervision/Accidents), and F282 (Comprehensive Care Plans).
  • CMS has released a webinar (available via YouTube at this link) on the CMS National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes - formally referred to as the Initiative to Improve Behavioral Health and Reduce the Use of Antipsychotic Medications in Nursing Home Residents.  The webinar provides an overview of the national partnership, resources for technical assistance, and plans for upcoming educational offerings.
  • CMS has also released a "Discharge Planning" booklet (ICN 908184).  It is designed to provide education on Medicare discharge planning.  Again, email SHC if you need assistance obtaining a copy of the booklet and we'll send you the PDF version.  

Hope everyone stays safe and has provisions in place for staffing today & tomorrow with the pending winter storm!

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Don't Overlook the "Easy" F-tags in Your #SNF

Many of us know that there are certain F-tags that are difficult to avoid no matter how fantastic the nursing facility is.  F309, F329, and F441 come to mind.  However, there are citations that can be avoided with little effort.  Several different tags deal with the posting of information and information provided to residents/families.  For example, F156 (Notice of Rights, Rules, Services, Charges) has seemed to be an issue recently in some areas.  

  • Assign rotating staff in your facility to conduct a regular walk-through to look for the required postings.
  • Do the required postings have the correct information?  Example, current Ombudsman / Administrator, correct phone numbers?
  • Are the postings printed with a larger font?
  • Are the postings at an appropriate height?
  • Are residents being given a copy of the facility charges along with their Medicare denial letters?
  • Is the facility using the most recent Medicare denial letter?
  • Is the facility using the most recent Notice of Transfer/Discharge and Request for Hearing?
  • Is information on how to obtain Medicaid assistance posted?
  • Is the required staffing information posted in an accessible area?
  • If your facility has an electronic wandering system, is information available that those residents would have access to also?

Taking a few minutes each week to ensure compliance with these areas can potentially save a lot of headaches once the surveyors enter the home.  Need assistance with your Social Service or Activity department?  Is your Indiana facility in compliance with required QMRP visits?  Contact Simmons Healthcare Consulting, LLC, and we will schedule a visit to help continue improving Quality of Life services for your residents.

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Wondering What SHC Can Do for Your Nursing Facility?

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SHC's Info Round-Up for this Past Week in #LTC

Round-up of items that caught SHC's attention this past week - 

Need assistance with your Social Service or Activities departments?  Is your nursing facility in compliance with QMRP visits?  Contact SHC and we'll schedule a visit to continue improving Quality of Life services for your residents. 

Have a safe week everyone!

Helping Your New Residents / Families Cope at the End of the Year

A suggested project for nursing facilities this coming week, particularly Social Service and Activities staff, but every department can help –   

  • Make a quick list of current residents who are ‘new’ to your facility in 2012.  
  • Meet with those residents to discuss remaining holiday activities (include New Year’s) and any special meals that are planned.  
  • Observe their mood state and psychosocial adjustment.  
  • Listen to any feelings that they are expressing verbally.      

  • Touch-base with those same residents’ families to inquire about any holiday plans that might include the resident.  
  • Offer ideas of how the family can ‘include’ the resident, either at home, in the facility, or via phone. 
  • Remind the families of any remaining special events at the facility and any community rooms you might have that are available for family gatherings.  
  • Explain the LOA process and the procedure for purchasing guest meals or bringing in outside food.  
  • Give a reminder of the importance of adding any ‘gifts’ to the resident’s inventory list. 
  • If your facility has Skype abilities (and kudos if you do!), offer the option to help coordinate scheduling a Skype ‘visit’.      
  • If a family member will be transporting a resident for the first time, have they had training in order to do so safely?

Although this coming week or two tends to be extremely busy, taking the time to proactively help those who are attempting to cope for the first time with either residing or having a loved one in a facility over Christmas, can be crucial.  If the entire management team gets involved, it’ll be much quicker ;-)   

Could your Social Service or Activity department benefit from a review of their needs?  Indiana facilities, are you in compliance with your QMRP visits?  Contact Simmons Healthcare Consulting, LLC, and we’ll schedule a visit to help your facility continue improving Quality of Life services for your residents.   

Purpose - A Simple Word with a Bigger Meaning via @anthonycirillo @hospitalimpact

Attempting to quickly catch-up this evening on some healthcare articles / blogs I had flagged this past week and came across "Understand the patient's passion, purpose for better care" by Anthony Cirillo on Hospital Impact's blog.  Another 'must-read'.

Are we asking our residents what is important to them or do we just assume that we know?  

A great habit for Social Service staff is to ask each new resident about what is/has been most important to them.  The above question always reminds me of a female rehab resident several years ago.  I was able to be the first person in her room to welcome her (Social Service & Activity folks, you know how rarely that happens).  Truth be told, I was the first one in because the Admissions person passed my office and indicated she was going to be a 'feisty one'.  As I entered, the resident was unpacking her belongings and we started to talk about the usual new resident information.  Then I asked her about what was most important to her and what her purpose is/has been.  She handed me a framed photo of her granddaughter, looked me straight in the eye, and said 'Her, and people around here better realize that'.  My response was to respectfully chuckle to which she responded, 'I'm serious.  I am actually a nice lady, but that picture and my granddaughter's visits mean everything to me.  As long as my granddaughter can visit me everyday and people here leave my picture alone, we'll get along fine.'  And we did get along fine.  

The resident wasn't 'feisty'.  She was worried that her routine would have to change.  She was afraid that someone would steal her photo.  She was scared that her granddaughter wouldn't be welcome to visit.  After reassuring the resident that her requests would be honored, I spread the word to the staff.  Housekeeping staff left her photo alone and rehab scheduled her therapy sessions in the early morning so that she could have time to rest before the granddaughter visited every day at supper.  

Some extremely simple steps helped to prevent behavioral symptoms, grievances, mood decline, and an early discharge.  Sometimes we make situations out to be harder than they have to be.  Talk to the residents.  Ask them questions.

Need assistance with in-services for your nursing facility staff on customer service, psychosocial well-being, person-centered care?  Contact Simmons Healthcare Consulting, LLC, and we'll schedule training to help continue improving Quality of Life services for your residents.

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Upcoming IHCA QIS Intermediate Training

IHCA (Indiana Health Care Association) has QIS Intermediate Training sessions scheduled for next week  -  December 11 in Merrillville and December 13 in Edinburgh.  Information on IHCA's website can be found at this link and a PDF flyer can be found here.  If you haven't signed up yet, I believe that there's still time to do so.  And if you are planning to attend the Merrillville session, look for SHC and say 'hello'.  

If your facility is needing assistance with ISDH survey preparation, survey management, or achieving regulatory compliance following a survey, contact SHC and we'll schedule a visit to help continue improving Quality of Life services for your residents.

Have a great weekend everyone!