How do I choose the right facility?
You may need to choose a nursing home quickly following discharge from a hospital. There are a few online resources to help you make the best choice.
The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has a website called Nursing Home Compare. Type in your zip code, and you will be directed to a list of nursing homes in your area.
The website contains facility contact information, distance from your home and a Five-Star rating which uses health inspections, staffing and quality measures to assign a star rating to the facility.
About the Five-Star rating
A facility with five stars is considered much above average while a one star building is much below average. However, the rating system can be misleading and may not accurately reflect the current delivery of care.
The Five-Star rating should not be the only tool used by consumers to pick a nursing home.
State health inspections take place every 12-15 months, or following complaints by family or residents. Health inspections reflect past problems over a three year period. This "snapshot in time" may not reflect present conditions because corrections are made immediately after a deficiency is issued.
The staffing component measures the types of nurses providing care (RN, LVN, CNA) and the hours of care provided per patient per day. The survey team looks at a two-week window of time so the rating may be out of date. Not counted as staff are nurse practitioners, occupational, respiratory and rehabilitation therapists, social service workers, nurse consultants, activity planners and other staff that provide direct resident care.
The Five-Star system is based solely on regulatory data and fails to include any information on family or resident satisfaction, longevity of staff, success in returning residents to lower levels of care, rehabilitation achievements or community and professional awards. Under Five-Star, facilities can get marked down for accepting the most chronically ill, obese patients, patients with wounds, post-surgical patients and those with pain and diabetes. The scoring is not risk-adjusted for populations like those with Alzheimer’s, where a decline is expected and unavoidable.
The best way to find out if a nursing home is right for your loved one is to make a personal visit, talk to staff and other family members and consult trusted medical professionals.