Highly Rated Nursing Home? What Does It Mean?

Road sign with no elder abuse zone written on itWhen considering placing your loved one in a nursing home you will no doubt see various ratings or reviews. What does it all mean?

CMS Five Star Rating System

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has created a system where nursing homes can be rated on a scale of five stars. This system was designed to help consumers and their families make informed decisions when it comes to placing their loved ones into someone else’s care.

According to the CMS’s website the rating system is described as the following:

The Nursing Home Compare Web site features a quality rating system that gives each nursing home a rating of between 1 and 5 stars.  Nursing homes with 5 stars are considered to have much above average quality and nursing homes with 1 star are considered to have quality much below average.  There is one Overall 5-star rating for each nursing home, and a separate rating for each of the following three sources of information:

  • Health Inspections – The health inspection rating contains the 2 most recent health inspections that occurred before implementation of the new Long-Term Care inspection process on November 28, 2017, and inspections due to complaints in the last 2 years occurring prior to November 28, 2017.  This information is gathered by trained, objective inspectors who go onsite to the nursing home and follow a specific process to determine the extent to which a nursing home has met Medicaid and Medicare’s minimum quality requirements.  The most recent survey findings are weighted more than the prior year.

  • Staffing – The staffing rating has information about the number of hours of care provided on average to each resident each day by nursing staff.  This rating considers differences in the levels of residents’ care need in each nursing home.  For example, a nursing home with residents who had more severe needs would be expected to have more nursing staff than a nursing home where the resident needs were not as high.

  • Quality Measures (QMs) – The quality measure rating has information on 16 different physical and clinical measures for nursing home residents.   The QMs offer information about how well nursing homes are caring for their residents’ physical and clinical needs.

So is this something you should consider when you are exploring your loved one’s options– Of course. But there are several other things you should look for as well!

Other Things To Consider

Another site that provides information on nursing home quality is www.Medicare.gov. They consider and allow you to compare nursing home care quality and staffing. As mentioned above, you should always consider staffing. If a nursing home is understaffed, there will most likely be issues with the quality of care your loved one receives. To search for a nursing home, you can visit the website here.

In addition to ratings and reviews, there is an emotional aspect of placing your loved one in a home. AARP also gives a list of things to consider if you are putting your loved one in a nursing home. They suggest that you consider the following:

  • Do not make promises you cannot keep.
    • The article explains that when a loved one needs 24 hour care, sometimes it is out of the control of their family members. Nursing homes are for people who need 24 hour care. After researching carefully, this may be your only option if your loved one has a stroke or has dementia and needs to be cared for by a medical professional. Promising your loved one you will never put them into a home, and then having to do so, can be detrimental to their health, psyche, and lead to hard feelings and guilt.
  • The right care at the right time.
    •  Making sure your loved one is receiving the right care is so important. AARP describes the right plan as something that is not fixed or finite, but rather, able to meet your loved ones needs now as well as in the future. It should take into consideration ALL effected family members.

For more information from AARP, you can read the full article here.

Even Highly Rated Nursing Homes Have Abuse

According to an article in the Des Moines Register, by Clark Kauffman, an 87 year old woman died at a highly rated nursing home. The article reports that in the days prior to her death she was found deprived of water, dehydrated, and in pain.

The article states the following:

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals recently proposed a $29,750 fine for the Timely Mission Nursing Home in Buffalo Center due to the Feb. 27 death of Virginia Olthoff. However, the state has not imposed that fine to allow the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to take over the case. To date, no state or federal fine has been imposed.

Despite having been fined last year for the physical and verbal abuse of residents, Timely Mission currently has CMS’ highest possible ranking for quality of resident care — five stars — but the lowest possible ranking in terms of government-inspection results. It has an overall rating of two stars, which CMS labels “below average.” Some of the agency’s ratings have come under fire recently because they are based in part on unverified, self-reported data.

In instances like this, it is important to understand exactly what the CMS ratings and labels mean. To learn more about this case you can read the full article here.

If you believe your loved one has been the victim of abuse, make sure they are safe. Calling the proper authorities, including the police, is imperative. Once your loved one is safe, you should file a complaint. For a complete list of contact information by state, you can visit Medicare’s list here.  It may also be time to contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney.

Contacting me is a step in the right direction. I will go over your loved one’s case with you and pin-point where negligence, abuse, and improper care occurred. I will walk you through the steps of holding a nursing home and its staff accountable. You can comment below or fill out my confidential form here to begin the conversation.

Do you have questions about a possible abuse, neglect, stroke, or heart attack case? Contact us now using this confidential form. Or leave a comment below--but remember the comments are public, not confidential.

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