How to Know if Your SNF has a Great Speech Therapy Department?

With the implementation of RCS-1 expected in October 2018, your Skilled Nursing Facility’s speech therapy department has gone from important to essential.Speech Language Pathologists need to have two essential attributes:Expert CommunicatorsWell…. Its right in the title. Speech Language Pathologists need to be effective communicators. SLPs need to be able to effectively communicate with nursing staff about diet recommendations and postural changes or compensatory strategies that need to be implemented to ensure safe swallow function. Speech also needs to communicate with dietary and kitchen staff regarding any diet changes. These communications need to be clear & effective to ensure the correct diets are conveyed in a timely fashion. Conversations with physicians are crucial to receive timely orders for evaluations and treatments.Communication with the MDS coordinators will be more critical than ever as it relates to reimbursement with the implementation of RCS-1. Timely and effective communication the MDS staff ensures that coding of the MDS reflects an accurate picture of the resident and ensures the proper reimbursement for the facility. Now that speech will have its own category in October 2018 under RCS-1, the positive impact of Speech involvement on reimbursement can be as high as $100 per day!At Language Fundamentals we teach our clinicians to document as if each medical record will be scrutinized by a governmental auditor. As clinicians we instinctively want to help people. Being in the trenches and working to make people better is hard-wired in the makeup of an SLP. Documentation ensures that the clinician and the facility receive credit for that work as well as keep that hard-earned revenue after an audit.Expert CliniciansNot all clinicians have the same skill set. The job of an SLP in a Skilled Nursing Facility is to treat a wide range of patients that require speech, language cognitive and swallowing testing and treatment. Clinicians finish schooling with a degree in Communication Disorders and after a 9-month residency receive are awarded the Certificate of Clinical Competence, CCCs. Depending on the state, they can be awarded a license to practice at the same time. Clinicians with 10 years of experience working in a school setting can turn around and apply for a job in a SNF. Highly trained, highly motivated clinicians with a passion for gerontology are the best fit for a SNF.One reason we are fortunate at Language Fundamentals is that as clinicians and business owners, we wear our passions on our sleeves. Young clinicians tend to want to work with us to gain experience and critical skills that are necessary to function as expert clinicians in our field. Additionally, rather than being a lone Speech Therapist at one facility, joining a network of SLPs brings the voice and information of a hundred clinicians to task and aide one another with complex cases and other unique experiences.Instrumental exams such as flexible endoscopic evaluation of the swallow (FEES) provides valuable and timely feedback when assessing residents for diet upgrade or ruling out aspiration and the risk of aspiration pneumonia. Having clinicians with the availability to perform FEES testing on site, provides added value to the SNF and is saves the time & effort of sending residents out of the building.   Certainly, the issue of cost of may be of concern. FEES equipment can run in the tens of thousands of dollars and many facilities might not see enough reimbursement revenue to justify the expense. Therefore, your Speech Therapists can provide valuable insight in determining a potential Return on Investment.If your SNF has questions about Speech Department operations, FEES testing or Rehab, feel free to drop me a line in the comment field below.