CMS to SNFs: Get your social media policies in place

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is putting its foot down concerning skilled nursing facility (SNF) employees who post embarrassing or demeaning photos of residents on social media. If your facility hasn’t gotten around to creating formal policies on employees’ social media activities yet, you could be held liable at the next state survey, or sooner.

CMS issued a memorandum to state officials, saying they must make sure nursing homes have policies in place that forbid employees to take embarrassing or demeaning pictures or videos of residents and post them on social media. The memorandum follows a

“Nursing homes must establish an environment that is as homelike as possible and includes a culture and environment that treats each resident with respect and dignity. Treating a nursing home resident in any manner that does not uphold a resident’s sense of self-worth and individuality dehumanizes the resident and creates an environment that perpetuates a disrespectful and/or potentially abusive attitude towards the resident(s),” the memorandum reads.

The CMS notice also requires SNFs to report any employee who violates the policy to a law enforcement agency, calling the violation a form of “mental abuse.” Any violation involving a photograph or recording that is used in a demeaning way will be investigated under a variety of F-tags, even if the resident gave consent for the image or recording to be taken, the memo states.

A facility’s social media policies, including documented training of staff on those policies, need to extend further than full-time staff. The memorandum’s stated definition of “employee” includes contractors and volunteers, too.

Read the full CMS memorandum here.

Topics: Executive Leadership , Medicare/Medicaid , Regulatory Compliance , Training