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Looking After Compliance at Senior Care Facilities with CMMS

By Jonathan Davis | June 24, 2019

The long history of federal, state, and local government involvement with senior care facilities has plenty of ups and downs, but overall, there's been a steady increase in the number of regulations. That means the maintenance departments at these facilities face every-growing compliance challenges. What's the long-term solution?

Full-featured CMMS software helps departments stay compliant. A good CMMS helps you:

  • set up compliance-friendly preventive maintenance programs
  • stay agile and adapt quickly to new regulations
  • maintain accurate records and generate data-packed reports

Compliance-friendly preventive maintenance

There are regulations for both how things get done and how often. The preventive maintenance module in a feature-rich CMMS ensures that these tasks are done on schedule and that nothing gets forgotten. For example, senior care facilities with patients suffering from dementia require very specific safety features. Because the patients are at an increased risk of wandering off, with possibly disastrous consequences, the wing is secured with special "confounding locks." Caregivers can set and unlock them easily while patients cannot, but only because they don't look like locks and the moving parts are cleverly hidden. If one becomes loose, however, determined patients can open them fairly easily. A CMMS-backed preventive maintenance program ensures these locks are checked and tightened regularly.

And with a good CMMS, PMs, just like regular demand work orders, are full of information to help technicians do things both on time and correctly, including:

  • Complete asset work order history
  • Associated parts and materials
  • Detailed step-by-step instructions
  • Digital versions of O&M manuals
  • Customizable checklists
  • Interactive floor maps

Agile adoption with data-rich work orders

Staying on top of regulatory changes is so challenging that senior care facilities often have dedicated compliance officers. Even for facilities with officers, job postings for high-level administrative positions still generally require applicants to have a strong working knowledge of applicable laws.

Thankfully, the head of the maintenance department is not going to be expected to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the latest rules and regulations. For example, you're not expected to know by heart the federal regulations covering fire safety (,which by the way are in the Joint Commission/NFPA Life Safety Book. Even just the PDF version looks heavy).

But, you are going to be expected to efficiently communicate to your technicians any changes to the maintenance department's policies and best practices that are the result of new laws. When there's a new federal regulation about how and how often the fire alarms need to be tested, you'll need to inform the team and then enforce the new policies.

A good hospital maintenance management software makes this much easier. Without a computerized maintenance management system, you might have to call a general meeting to review the changes. Or, you might choose to send out a email and then hope everyone reads and understands it. With a CMMS, though, all you need to do is update some of the work orders in the existing preventive maintenance schedule. By simply changing the frequency of the PMs and updating the customizable step-by-step instructions, you can ensure the technicians are following all the new rules.

How hard is it to change the PMs? Not hard at all, and one of the main reasons is that a good CMMS is backed by a cloud-based database, making it up to date and accessible from any mobile device. Instead of working with easily lost slips of paper or a million different versions of the same spreadsheet file, everyone who accesses the CMMS is looking at the most up-to-date version of the data. You never have to worry about technicians accidentally using an old, out-of-date copy of a form or file.

Custom auto-generated reports

Compliance has two parts. There's the being compliant part. And then there's the equally important proving it part. A full-featured CMMS software makes both much easier.

Let's take a basic example. You need to find the average amount of time it takes technicians to close out work orders. Here, we'll look only at demand word orders, and so we're basically answering the question "How long does it take to fix something after someone notices it's broken?" Without a CMMS, first you're going to need to gather up all your demand work orders. With paper or spreadsheets, it all comes down to how organized you've been. Maybe you have all the papers in a nice neat stack or all the files properly named and saved in one folder. If you don't, it can be a real challenge to find all those scraps of paper and individual files. The worse is having to go through your email account looking for any files that might now only exist as email attachments.

Let's say you track them all down. The next step is to start going through them, one by one, calculating the amount of time between being generated and being closed out. If you're using spreadsheets, it might be a bit easier, but no matter what you're looking at a fair bit of clicking and typing. The last step is trying to print everything out, and that means rearranging and resizing the columns a million times trying to get everything to fit on one page.

With a CMMS software, it's completely different. Reports are customizable and autogenerated. You don't need to track down any numbers. Everything is in the software already, guaranteed to be accurate and up to date. The CMMS then does all the math for you, and even prints out the results, nicely formatted.

Next steps

For senior care facilities, staying compliant is challenging; there are a lot of rules and they change over time. On top of that, failure is a serious matter. In best-case scenarios, all you're going to face is a fine. Worst-case scenarios involve lose of quality of life and injuries or worse for some of our most vulnerable. It's terrible.

A good full-featured, data-driven hospital facility maintenance management software makes staying compliant so much easier. If you don't have one, or you have one and it's not giving you the results you were promised, now's the time to start talking with providers. Make sure to ask them how they handle your data. Just like in healthcare, a good CMMS provider will be very careful with someone else's information. It's your data and should always remain yours. The provider will just be taking care of it for you.

Topics: PM maintenance computerized maintenance management software CMMS for hospitals


Jonathan Davis

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan Davis started out writing for textbooks before branching out to video games and marketing collateral. He has a master’s degree in journalism and a certificate in technical writing.


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