When families come together to make the important and often difficult decision of moving a loved one to a nursing home, they want the peace of mind that their family member is getting the best care they need to stay healthy. That includes knowing that the facility has sufficient highly trained staff to devote to all residents.
We at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also believe that staffing is a vital component of a nursing home’s ability to provide quality care. That’s why nursing home staffing information is listed on the Nursing Home Compare websitewhere families making these important decisions can research the quality of facilities in their communities.
Last year, CMS announced improvements to Nursing Home Compare that will provide a more accurate picture of how a facility is staffed throughout the year. In order to get the most accurate information, we’ve developed a new system called the Payroll-Based Journal, where facilities will not only be able to report on the level of staff in each nursing home, but also will be able to report on employee turnover and tenure. When combined with resident census information, these data can then be used by families to evaluate nursing home staffing.
Here are three things that nursing homes need to know about the Payroll-Based Journal:
First, the mandatory reporting period starts July 1, 2016.
Since Oct. 1, 2015, Payroll-Based Journal submissions to CMS were optional to allow facilities to test their processes for submission in the required format. However, July 1, 2016, is the start of the mandatory reporting period under CMS regulations. All facilities are required to submit the requisite data quarterly, and these submissions are due to CMS within 45 days of the last day of each fiscal quarter.
Second, accuracy is vital.
We will publicly post the new staffing information on Nursing Home Compare and use this data in the Nursing Home Five-Star Quality Rating System to help consumers understand the quality and differences of staffing among nursing homes. Therefore, it is critical for providers to submit data accurately so the information posted is a true reflection of the staffing at their facility. The data collected will also be auditable back to a facility’s payroll to help ensure accuracy.
Third, CMS is here to help.
As with many new programs, there can be questions and uncertainty when transitioning to a new requirement. CMS is here to help make the transition to mandatory reporting on July 1, 2016, as seamless as possible.
Training is available to all nursing homes on how to submit data manually, or from an automated payroll or timekeeping system. This includes a Payroll-Based Journal Policy Manual, training videos, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and technical specifications.
We also have two separate email addresses to receive and respond to both policy and technical questions from nursing homes. For policy-related questions, please email NHStaffing@cms.hhs.gov. For technical- (software-) related questions, please email NursingHomePBJTechIssues@cms.hhs.gov.
Improving public reporting of staffing information is a high priority for us at CMS, and it is highly valuable for providers, patients, and their caregivers. We look forward to working with nursing homes, consumers, and other stakeholders on this important effort.
Kate Goodrich, MD, MHS, is director of the Center for Clinical Standards & Quality at CMS.