Operations Best Practices

How to Avoid the Top 5 F-tags in Long Term Care

July 13, 2023

Long term care communities are inspected at least once annually by state officials. During the inspection, officials identify areas of the community that need improvement to meet the standards of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). They provide the community with a report of federal tag or F-tag numbers that correspond to specific regulations within the Code of Federal Regulations. F-tags show communities exactly what they need to improve on to be found in compliance with federal and state mandates.

Long term care communities can face stiff penalties for non-compliance with CMS regulations. For instance, communities need to be CMS certified in order to continue receiving funding from Medicare or Medicaid. In this article, we cover 5 of the most common F-tags in long term care and provide tips on how to avoid them.

F-tag F636 – Comprehensive Assessments and Timing

F636 is concerned with how frequently long term care communities must conduct resident assessments. Communities need to capture information about a resident’s preferences, goals, needs, health status, and more to assist in care planning. According to this regulation, communities need to conduct comprehensive assessments of each resident at least once annually.

A related F-tag, F638 – Quarterly Review Assessment, adds that a non-comprehensive assessment must be completed at least once every three months for each resident. The need to update assessments quarterly can create a lot of paperwork for communities. Some may find it challenging to keep track of which residents are due for an updated assessment. 

Tips to stay in compliance with F636: Eliminate paperwork with digital tools to streamline your assessment process. Welbi’s resident experience platform digitizes your resident assessments and alerts teams when they need to be updated.

F-tag F641 – Accuracy of Assessments

Of course, conducting resident assessments at the correct time is not enough on its own. The information recorded must also be completely accurate for each resident. According to the CMS Compliance Group, this is the ninth most frequently cited F-tag on standard surveys for senior living communities across the United States.

There are many reasons why a community may have inaccurate resident data. They may still conduct resident assessments on paper, which can be time-consuming to update. They may also have multiple sources of resident data with conflicting information. This makes it difficult to know which source is telling the truth about the resident.

Tips to stay in compliance with F636: If your community has not already done so, an F636 citation is a sign that it’s time to go paperless. You should also learn about how integrated software solutions eliminate data silos, giving your teams one trusted source for accurate resident data.

F-tag F689 – Free of Accident Hazards/Supervision/Devices

This F-tag is concerned with keeping the resident environment free of potential hazards and ensuring that each resident receives the assistance devices they need to prevent accidents. Communities must have a system in place to identify and evaluate potential hazards. They must also implement interventions to reduce hazards and monitor the effectiveness of these interventions.

Regulation F689 is key to preventing falls in your community. As reported by Senior Housing News, 24% of falls in assisted living communities resulted in residents requiring more care.

Tips to stay in compliance with F689: Review your community’s Falls Prevention Program policies frequently and ensure that staff have proper training to identify, evaluate, and reduce potential hazards. 

F-tag F880 – Infection Prevention and Control

F880 states that long term care communities must have infection prevention and control policies in place. These policies must include a system for preventing, identifying, reporting, investigating, and controlling infections and communicable diseases. The system must be able to perform all these functions for residents, staff, visitors, and volunteers — in short, for anyone who comes into the community. 

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how important this regulation is for staff and resident safety. According to the CMS Compliance Group, Infection Prevention and Control is one of the most frequently cited deficiencies in long term care communities, year after year. 

Tips to stay in compliance with F880: Review your community’s infection prevention and control policies frequently and ensure that staff have the proper training. Welbi’s Contact Tracing Feature can be part of your community’s infection prevention and control policy. This feature generates a contact tracing report based on your program attendance records, so you can instantly see who has come into contact with an infected individual.

F-tag F679 – Activities Meet Interests/Needs of Every Resident

According to regulation F679, every community needs to offer activities and programs that are designed to meet the needs, hobbies, and interests of all residents. These activities must be meaningful and support residents’ emotional, physical, and mental well-being. Programs and activities are to be based on the comprehensive assessments and personal preferences of each resident. 

To avoid an F679 tag, it is crucial for communities to record information related to resident engagement. This includes their residents’ activity preferences, attendance records, and levels of participation in both group and self-directed programs. Surveyors may also observe residents attending activities to see how engaged they are. 

Tips to stay in compliance with F679: Welbi’s resident experience platform allows teams to quickly capture your most important resident engagement data. The platform recommends programs and activities based on resident data that reflect the needs and interests of those living in your community. 

Inspections help long term care communities bring the quality of their services up to the minimum standards of care set out in state and federal regulations. F-tags are a tool that allows communities to identify exactly where they need to improve.

To learn more about how Welbi’s resident experience platform can support your community’s compliance management, check out our ebook, Improving Resident Care Through Quality Assurance Performance Improvement (QAPI). You can also connect with us directly to see how Welbi can help your community stay compliant by requesting a demo.

Katie Stewart

Katie is a member of Welbi’s Customer Experience team! She has a background in communications and recreation and is passionate about older adults, exercise, coffee and people.

Holly Mathias

Holly is a member of Welbi’s Marketing team! She has a background in communications and marketing, and is a compassionate individual who loves team work, story telling, and wellness.

Wendy Riopelle

Wendy is a student in the Honours BA in English program at the University of Ottawa, where she has won numerous awards for her writing.

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