To all you MDS nurses, who covers for you when you're on vacation? I've been delegated to be the stand in when our MDS nurse/coordinator is away which is later this month. I've been sporadically working with her to learn the ropes but there's so much to learn and my head is spinning! I get nauseous looking at the hard copy then the screen when inputting the information into the computer. I will also be running the careplanning show. I will not be submitting anything, she'll do that when she returns. I intend to use any resources available to me during that week but I'm so worried that I'll forget someone or something. I'd appreciate any pointers, hints, suggestions? Thanks.
Last edit by Inquisitive one on Aug 6, '08
: Reason: spelling error
Aug 6, '08
My Director of Nursing covers me when I am on vacation. Have the RAI manual(Bible) readily available to you when you complete the MDS. That way you can refer to it when you have a question. It amazes me how many people have no idea what the RAI manual is and they complete sections of the MDS. I know in these days it is hard, but try to just think through the items and take your time. I just had UMR in for our documentation review and some of our errors were stupid mistakes, not lack of understanding.
Aug 8, '08
I'm lucky enough to have an 'assistant' coordinator - though management doesn't feel that there is enough MDS work to justify her doing that alone - so she has other job functions outside of completing MDS. She picks and chooses what she actually does when I'm gone (so far in our 1-1/2 years of working together - I've had 1 one-week vacation and an odd-day-off here and there - I've always come in when I'm sick, since I don't have to have patient contact.)
What she actually accomplishes while I'm gone is minimal - just keeping things going - such as the meetings and such (from my stand-point it seems 'minimal' - I'm sure she really is working her tail off - I should be more grateful). I set up all the scheduling ahead of time - and she has a rudimentary idea of how to access the 'essential' files on the computer we share that need to be distributed (I've tried teaching her how to submit assessments to the state - but reality is that CMS allows up to 30 days to transmit - so that can wait for all but the most extended of leaves to be done).
Ironically enough - I got this job when the old coordinator took 6 to 8 weeks off for a surgery and just sort of never told anyone (except her assistant) that she was seriously considering retiring after that was all said and done. The admins thought the DON/ADON could cope for the 6 to 8 weeks - the assistant ended up resigning from the stress of trying to hand-hold them through the process - neither had the time to take on the extra duties NOR the aptitude for the nit-picky-ness needed to do MDS - so it took me months to clean up the mess they all left behind - all the while, trying to learn the job. The former coordinator eventually came in a couple of days a week to 'orient' me to the job - but by then I had been doing it long enough that all I needed was an occasional impossible question answered (those ones that fall between the cracks of the RAI manual - I agree with SLS703- it is THE most single important resource you have - it IS the letter of the law as to what is the right or wrong answer to filling in the MDS) - and she spent most of that time 'auditing' the stuff done while she was gone to make it more compliant with what it needed to be. I was left without her assistant (who had gone back to the halls) and then they hired (without my input) a new assistant - who (much to my extreme horror) had never even worked in a nursing home before, let alone had any clue what an MDS was.
Oh well. I also recommend developing a network of more experienced MDS people to call on for those impossible questions mentioned above... I would assume most states have people within their hierarchy that will also field calls of the 'help, I don't know what to do!!!' nature (ours are kinda grouchy and make you feel like you-know-what for calling and bothering them - but they will be helpful if you are patient and don't lose your cool). Heck - email me brookshire[underline]mdsnurse[at]earthlink[dot]net
and maybe I can be helpful. (trying to avoid spam robots - just use the characters to replace the stuff in the brackets  above). If I don't know the answer, I might have someone in my network that does. It's a very helpful community - I've never had anyone I've called - even total stranger MDS coordinators that I got a name from some intermediary - that was even remotely put-off by some weirdo (me) calling them out of the blue.
Go get 'em kid!