Did you know? Nursing Home 5-Star Rating not consistant


Published: 11/19/2009

by Shon Ingram


Much has been discussed about the new Medicare 5-Star Rating system in the recent months. Although this is a great system to quickly look at how a facility ranks, it is filled with problems. Many people have posted comments about one nursing home having a 5-star rating being deplorable, while one with one star is perfect. This inconsistency has caused many consumers to doubt the validity of the rating system. The system was designed to look at three criteria: health inspections, staffing numbers and quality measures. The health inspections are conducted by state departments of health that are required yearly for nursing home licensure. The staffing numbers are reported to Medicare by the nursing home. Some states have required staffing ratios, while others do not. Quality Measures involve the acuity and health of the residents and the care that they receive. The limits for each criteria vary. Although the regulations are set on the federal level, each states inspection process may vary from state to state and each surveyor may interpret the regulations differently. The staffing numbers are self reported and only reflect a two-week period of time during the year. You may be staffed better that week that the other 51 weeks of the year. The quality measures are also self reported and don’t include all aspects of care involved in the daily care of residents. So what does all this mean? The 5-star rating is a good primary indicator of the nursing homes quality of care. However, because of the inconsistent data reported and different interpretation of the nursing home regulations, nothing beats putting any eye on the care yourself. You simply have to tour the home and see for yourself. Conduct your visit after hours and on the weekends. This is when you will get the best picture of the care received. Why you say? After 5 and on the weekends mean that the administrative staff and management team are not in the building. The only staff there are ones that are providing direct patient care. They are not being watched closely and you can get a better picture. For more information please contact me at ihcconsult2@hotmail.com or www.eldercarelifesolutions.com.