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CMS Urges Nursing Homes to Use COVID-19 Staff Training

In a Nov. 17 news release CMS urges nursing homes to take advantage of targeted COVID-19 training and highlights facilities that have already done so. This is the free course available on QSEP that offers modules for both front-line staff and management staff (access training here); it is separate from the longer QIO training offerings and from Project ECHO.

There is neither a requirement to complete this training nor a recommendation on the number of staff who should complete it. However, CMS included in its communication an “achievement list” of nursing homes at which 50% or greater of staff had completed the training, adding: “With coronavirus cases increasing across the country and infection control identified as a major issue, we encourage all nursing homes to take advantage of this no-cost opportunity to train their staff.”

Our colleagues at LeadingAge national (LAN) note that neither the list, nor the CMS press release, takes into account a concern they have shared with CMS since before the training was released, that not all staff or nursing homes have wide-spread access to computers in order to complete a web-based training. Understanding that wide-spread access to computers and web-based training is an issue, LAN offers these suggestions:

  • Prioritize training for certain staff at both management and front-line levels. Would this include your Director of Nursing Services and Infection Preventionist? What about other department heads? For front-line staff, consider CNAs. What about LPNs/RNs? What other staff have the most contact with residents and the resident environment? Social services and activities? Environmental services? Food and Nutrition Services?
  • If you are able to share key learnings from these modules with staff who do not complete the material on-line, document that you have trained them on the information, even though the QSEP platform is not logging completion for those staff.

The training for frontline nursing home staff (estimated time: 3 hours) covers five topics: Hand Hygiene and PPE, Screening and Surveillance, Cleaning the Nursing Home, Cohorting, and Caring for Residents with Dementia in a Pandemic. These modules are focused on the most urgent needs of frontline nursing home staff and some of the most common concerns reported to CMS by surveyors and strike teams. The training modules for management (estimated time: 4 hours) are focused on infection control but also larger institution-wide issues like implementation of telehealth, emergency preparedness, and vaccine delivery. See the press release link above for additional detail about the modules.

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