These days many of us are faced with the task of finding a nursing home for a loved one. And despite the internet and all the technology, it can still be difficult to find reliable sources to make an informed choice.
The official Medicare website has a section called Nursing Home Compare. Here you can look up facilities based on location. This offers up to a five-star rating of nursing homes based on health inspections, staffing and quality of resident care. However, be aware the staff and quality ratings are based on self-reported data that the government does not verify. The ratings also do not take into account state fines and enforcement data or consumer complaints to state agencies. A New York Times investigation in 2014 reported that facilities had learned how to game the system resulting in an increase in four- and five-star ratings.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also has a Nursing Home Covid-19 Public File which has data reported by nursing homes to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) system. This gives you an individual record for each certified Medicare/Medicaid skilled nursing facility and is updated weekly. Having cases of Covid-19 in a nursing home does not automatically indicate noncompliance with federal requirements. This information is simply used to protect the health and safety of nursing home residents.
State inspectors do conduct yearly health and safety inspections of nursing homes for compliance with Medicare and Medicaid regulations. A nursing home may also be inspected based on a complaint submitted by a resident (or other individual) or based on a facility’s self-reported incident.
In addition to using the above sites, you should also look at online platforms like Yelp, Google and Caring.com for consumer feedback and reviews. These platforms allow users to review individual nursing homes but keep in mind the reviews are highly subjective, and it can be difficult to judge their legitimacy. However, one important fact is that Caring.com makes a concerted effort to ensure the integrity of its reviews, including having senior care experts read every submission before publication. Online reviews should not be the only avenue you take when making a decision, but when used in conjunction with other sources it can be helpful for getting a better sense of the facilities. Caring.com also has additional resources on its site including how to pay for nursing homes, finding in-home care, and how to find hospice care
Yelp has gone a step further than other consumer review sites and has teamed up with the investigative news organization, ProPublica, to provide users with additional information. ProPublica’s Nursing Home Inspect site allows users to compare nursing homes based on federal data.
Along with the above items, here are a few more ways to get some recommendations:
1. Ask friends, co-workers and even acquaintances for recommendations. Many will have probably already experienced having a loved one in a nursing home.
2. Contact your local county and/or state agency.
3. Ask your doctor(s) for recommendations.
Hope you have a great week!
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