Medicare provides a helpful tool for citizens trying to find a nursing home for a loved one. The Medicare website allows consumers to compare information about nursing homes. It is called Nursing Home Compare, and contains a lot of quality-of-care information on every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country.
The "Overall 5-Star" Rating System
To rate the nursing homes, Medicare uses an "Overall 5-Star" rating system. It assigns 1 to 5 stars, with more stars indicating better quality, across three "domains" better described as categories. Those domains/categories include: (1) Health Inspections, (2) Quality Measures, and (3) Staffing.
The Nursing Home Compare website generates its rating based on past health-inspections of the nursing homes. Medicare uses inspections from the last three years. Previous inspections have greater weight.
Some of the rating measures used:
- the percentage of long-stay high-risk residents with pressure ulcers
- the percentage of long-stay residents experiencing a fall with major injury
- the percentage of long-stay residents who self-report moderate to severe pain
This online tool also derives values from clinical data that each nursing homes must report to Medicare about their nursing home on a form called the Minimum Data Set.
The tool generates the rating for the Staffing Domain based on (1) the Registered Nurse (RN) hours per resident day, and (2) the "total staffing" hours per resident day. Total staffing includes: RNs, Licensed Practical Nurses, Licensed Vocational Nurses, and Certified Nurse Assistants. Nursing homes report staffing hours, which are from a two-week period just before the state agency conducts an inspection.
I would recommend you search any nursing home you consider for a loved one or family member using this tool.
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