Medicare ratings of nursing homes get tougher
Almost 1.4 million people used the Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website last year to check facility ratings. Now almost one-third of those U.S. nursing homes are getting lower scores on the government’s five-star rating system.
Why did the ratings drop?
The ratings changed because of updates in the way facilities are being evaluated. This includes measuring their use of anti-psychotic drugs, which are risky for older adults and people with dementia. They’ve also updated the metrics that check for adequate staffing, which is a critical component of good care.
What really changed?
61% of nursing homes got lower quality-of-care scores because of the changes. But in most cases, the declines didn’t affect a facility’s overall rating. About 28% of nursing homes dropped one star in their overall ratings. More than 1,200 lost their five-star status. About 3% of facilities fell two stars.
Medicare finally raises the bar for nursing home care standards
Medicare officials say that the new ratings are simply “raising the standards for nursing homes to achieve a high rating” and the lower ratings “do not necessarily indicate a change in the care provided.”
Until now, the standards haven’t changed since 2008, even though most facilities have reached five-star status. (Really? They thought it was realistic that they’re all five-star?)
Better ratings, but you still need to shop around
The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care feels that these changes will more accurately reflect the quality of care. An executive said “We’ve been concerned for quite some time that the ratings have been over-inflated, particularly as they relate to quality and staffing.”
Even if the Medicare star rating system has gotten more accurate, they are only one measure of quality. When you’re shopping for a facility, it’s important to check with other resources like a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) or your local long-term care ombudsman. It’s also smart to spend time in the facility and talk with residents and their relatives.
Next Step Read the full story at USA Today
By DailyCaring Editorial Staff
Image: America Herald