These days, nursing homes face census pressures on multiple fronts. “Some issues are beyond the control of the director of nursing services (DNS),” says Carol Hill, MSN, RN, RAC-MT, DNS-MT, QCP-MT, CPC, president of Hill Educational Services in Warrior, AL. “For example, when census is low at the hospital and referrals simply aren’t out there or when you have trouble hiring staff because your local labor market is extremely tight, you can’t do much about it.”
However, no matter what outside forces are at play, a DNS still has the opportunity to maximize census, notes Hill. “On the positive side, it’s not a stand-alone endeavor that just adds one more job to the DNS’s task list. Boosting census requires looking at the total picture, so a lot of what you will do to improve census also will benefit your Quality Measures in the different programs, as well as your survey performance.”
The following steps can help providers get on the right track.