Nursing Home Ranking System Has Mixed Results

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Feb 17, 2012 in Nursing Home Injury or Death

Since 2009, the federal government has been assigning "star rankings" to nursing home facilities. Five-star facilities represent the pinnacle of care, while one-star facilities score "much below average" as compared with other nursing homes in their state.

The ranking system was designed to identify problem nursing homes and provide incentive to change. After all, it was thought, no business owner wants to be publicly identified as being one of the worst in their state at caring for the elderly.

A recent USA Today analysis of federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data shows the ranking system is having, at best, mixed results.

While the total number of one-star homes has declined, many of the worst offenders seem permanently stuck in the bottom of the ranks - 564 homes housing 77,513 residents have received a one-star rating every year.

While a one-star rating can be issued for a variety of reasons, some of the common causes include dirty equipment, soiled linens, mistreatment of residents and unlicensed caregivers.

In addition to the persistent one-star homes, the analysis uncovered a number of interesting trends, including the following:

  • Overall quality has improved. While 40 percent of homes received one- or two-star rankings in 2009, by 2011 that number had dropped to 35 percent. Similarly, 38 percent of homes received four- or five-star rankings in 2009, compared with 43 percent in 2011.
  • For-profit nursing homes are more likely to have consistently low rankings than non-profit homes are.
  • Twenty-two of the 277 nursing homes owned by the nation's largest chain consistently received one-star rankings. None consistently received five-star rankings.

Low quality of care can sometimes be a precursor to nursing home abuse . If you're considering a nursing home for your loved one, be sure to check the home's ranking before making a commitment.

Source: USA Today, "As Nursing Home Care Improves, Some Problems Slow to Mend," Paul Monies, Feb 10, 2012.

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