Nurse assessment coordinators (NACs), or MDS coordinators, have an important and challenging role in skilled nursing facilities (SNF). From managing the MDS/RAI process, creating individualized care plans for residents, identifying significant changes, ensuring accurate reimbursement with the Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM), keeping track of Quality Measures and Five Star, and so much more, the NAC nurse is busy, and every little improvement helps. To help NACs improve their everyday job, here are five quick tips to implement today.
1. Scheduling – Find a schedule that works for you, not against you
- There are many options out there in LTPAC, from interactive, electronic schedules to good ol’ paper schedules. NACs should find what meets their needs the best and keeps them organized throughout the day, week, month, and year.
- NACs should work with the PPS and OBRA timing guidelines to plan a schedule that allows them to take time off, not feel overwhelmed constantly, and can get everything they need to do done in a timely manner.
2. Resources at the ready – Have your RAI User’s Manual and AAPACN tools close by
- Every NAC working in a nursing home should have a copy of the RAI User’s Manual, whether it’s a digital copy bookmarked in his or her browser, or a hardcopy on their desk or nearby. NACs should be able to quickly reference this important manual for any questions that come up in daily processes.
- There are also several great tools that AAPACN has created to help NACs in their daily work, which are free to AAPACN members, such as the PDPM At-a-Glance Tool, Interim Payment Assessment Considerations Tool, and MDS Data Collection for the NAC Tool. NACs should take advantage of these great tools and find ways to incorporate them into their daily routine for more efficient performance.
3. Move out of the silo
- Often, NACs may feel like they are working in a silo—no one else knows what they really do all day. It is time to move out of the silo and work in the open. Talk to nurses and nursing assistants about how their job and documentation support payment for the facility, impact the Quality Measures, and are reflected in public reporting.
- Also, try to be more visible by smiling and saying hello in the morning to other staff members. Avoid going directly to your office and not socializing with others. Instead, make a quick walk around the facility and greet staff and residents.
4. Get a “do not disturb” sign
- Sometimes NAC nurses need to really buckle down and stay focused to get a last-minute task done to meet a deadline, so it’s okay to go ahead and hang the “do not disturb” sign on the door for an hour or two to help with focus. But NACs should only use this sign when they have to—a closed door doesn’t help encourage collaboration. Remember, it’s important to move out of the silo and foster interdisciplinary communication.
5. Utilize networking – Get answers to common questions from other NACs
- Due to the nature of the job having very particular requirements that no one else manages, sometimes NACs have specific questions related to their duties that other staff members won’t be able to answer. When NACs need answers and they can’t go to staff, it’s important to utilize networks outside the organization to get questions answered. NACs can contact their State RAI Coordinator with questions, or they can find other NACs in their field through professional associations like AAPACN—the MDS General Discussion Community is a great resource for members—or through social media groups. NACs can also meet other NACs at local and virtual workshops and national conferences.
New to LTPAC and think a career as a NAC might be right for you? Learn more about the NAC role and profession.