If you are anything like me, policy review and revision is something I tend to dread.
Sometimes, there is an exhaustive thick policy book that rivals War and Peace.
Sometimes, there are several books that have been divided up by category. Always, no matter how they are arranged, how many policies exist, or how often they are reviewed and revised, (at least annually to meet the regs, right?) it is definitely a chore, not to mention time consuming!
Doesn’t it also seem that, no matter how diligent we are, and how comprehensive we think our policies to be, we are always scrambling for that one reference, and either a) can’t find it, or b) don’t have it? I know it has happened to me.
Having recently had to both implement and revise policies, I decided I needed to make the process more simple. I created a “Bones” list that I refer to as “Core Policies”. E mail me at email@example.com if you want a copy. I can’t promise it includes every policy you need for the bones of your policy book, but I reviewed both the current CMS and AAAHC guidelines as I developed it.
To make life simple, I alphabetized it. To me, I’d rather look a policy up in alpha order than by type or category. I also numbered it. As I add policies to the core list, they can be added as alpha, so no shuffling, and much easier to fix the table of contents.
As I built the Core Policy book, I pulled the existing policies related to the need, reviewed and revised, then sent them to the Governing Board to approve. If no policy met the requirement, I phoned a friend or googled one. For those facilities that had existing policies, I lined through the ones I pulled from the table of contents, and indicated “Moved to Core Policy Book”. As for the remaining policies, it provided me the luxury to prioritize the most important policies, then review the rest in small doses.
With those remaining policies, I tend to treat them like spring cleaning my closet. Will I need it ever? Is it covered in another policy? Does it define or support a process? If the answer is yes, I dust it off and give it a new home. It can live with the bones, or can live in a new book, maybe “Process Policies”. If the answer is no, I retire it with the board’s blessing.
I save all my policies on Dropbox and share with key staff so the most current revision electronically accessible. Once the process is complete, I mark my Outlook calendar a year out minus a month or more to review again. Now, when I need that key policy to reference, it will be easy to find and relevant.