An MDS wrangler at work

“Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride!” That Bette Davis chestnut (from the film classic All About Eve), came to mind as I nabbed a seat at Leah Klusch’s popular and intensive MDS 3.0 Review & Competency program. The 11-hour tutorial is spread over three days this weekend during the American College of Heath Care Administrators (ACHCA) Annual Convocation and Exposition in New Orleans.

Klusch, president of Alliance Training Group and a frequent contributor to Long-Term Living, looked positively gleeful as she cajoled her “disciples” (as one attendee affectionately referred to the group), to prepare for the marathon session by unwrapping and reviewing the massive training binders that would serve as their MDS bibles.

I had no intention of going the 11-hour distance. No way. I would leave that to the professionals. I was there for the first-hour general overview and a few good quotes. And Klusch didn’t disappoint.

“PPS assessments are breaking our backs.” “My husband says I’d sleep with the manual if I could.” “The green areas [referring to the shaded sections in the MDS] write your checks!” “The codes must match the definitions.” “This database was built for the surveyors, not to improve elder care.”

Klusch repeatedly stressed the importance of ongoing staff training and management buy-in. “The MDS/RAI process has potential for so many adaptations that you must constantly talk about them,” she said. “MDS 3.0 is very different from 2.0. A resident care plan must be completed by Day 14 before transmitting the MDS assessment … The assessment brings structure to the care plan.”

Guiding this brave group of administrators through the MDS maze, Klusch was impassioned, engaging, opinionated, awesome in her grasp of the minutiae of the MDS, and occasionally profane. The absurdity of the whole enterprise (e.g. an MDS manager must complete 48 pages of documentation every time a resident is readmitted to hospital), was never openly acknowledged during that first hour, but I bet by Monday afternoon session survivors will be ready to head over to Bourbon Street for a round or two of Hurricanes.

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