Roughly 22% (about 3,500) of the nation's 16,000 nursing homes received the lowest possible rating from Medicare's new five-star rating system. This means that hundreds of thousands of our parents and grandparents are staying in nursing homes that are simply not up to standards, and may be unsafe.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) uses three general criteria to rate nursing homes. CMS analyzes data from three years of annual Medicare health inspections, the ratio of the number of staff each nursing home has to the number of patients in the home, and an in-depth analysis of the “Quality Measures" in place at each nursing home. Quality Measures analysis looks at 10 important aspects of nursing home care such as how well the nursing home prevents and treats bedsores, use of physical restraints, frequency of urinary tract infections, and how well a nursing home preserves a patient's ability to dress and eat.
If you are currently attempting to select a nursing home, or if you want to check on the Medicare rating of a particular nursing home, you should check out the Medicare nursing home rating website at www.Medicare.gov This website provides guidelines for finding and comparing nursing homes, and has links to important information such as "Medicare's Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home".
When you are selecting a nursing home, be sure to check the Medicare rating, and also be sure to conduct your own comprehensive visit at the nursing home. Common sense tells you that you should probably stay away from nursing homes that have a 1, 2 or 3 star rating, unless your visit to the nursing home tells you otherwise. The new rating system is an important tool for consumers, but you should always rely on your own investigation before making a final decision on a nursing home.