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I heard I should pick a five-star rated nursing home for my mom, but what do the ratings mean?

 

A:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have put together a five-star quality rating system that helps the public determine which nursing homes are better than other ones. The lower the stars the worse the nursing home performed during its inspection, which is why you should stay clear of low-rated nursing homes.

Inspectors graded each nursing home on the following areas:

  • Health inspections – Nursing homes were graded on recent inspections, the past three annual inspections, and inspections that occurred from complaints made by residents or their families over the last three years.
  • Quality measures – Nursing homes were graded on their clinical data that includes residents’ physical needs such as bed sores and how well the nursing home cared for their residents.
  • Staffing – Nursing homes were graded on staffing data and how many hours nurses spent with residents daily.

Each area was reviewed and granted a certain amount of stars and then an overall combined total was calculated. If a facility got one-star, then they could have failed certain areas of the inspection; however, if a nursing home was given five-stars, they were determined to meet or exceed the guidelines. The ratings are heavily weighted on recent inspections and findings—which is why one-star quality ratings reflect a serious problem at a nursing home.

The quality of service and care that nursing homes provide to their residents vary greatly, which is why nursing homes are inspected to determine the quality of care. These ratings and information should give you a good idea of how different nursing homes treat their residents.

By taking the five-star ratings into account with your personal opinion from visiting each of the nursing homes you are considering, you will be able to determine which nursing home is suitable for your aging parent. For other tips and information on picking out a nursing home, we encourage you to visit our other articles and blogs, and to sign up for our newsletter.