Medicare Announces Changes to Nursing Home Compare Tool

Changes to Nursing Home Compare ToolThe Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), has recently announced changes to its Nursing Home Compare tool which will take effect in 2012.

The current nursing home quality measures of the Compare tool will be replaced with new quality measures based upon a new version of nursing home resident assessments, starting in 2012. The new measure will include input from the residents.

As part of the transition to new quality measures, the 5 Star Quality Rating that the tool has provided will not include the new measurement until April 2012. Starting in April 2012, findings of the new assessment measures will be part of the 5 Star Quality Ratings.

As stated by CMS on its Nursing Home Compare web page:

“In early 2012, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will begin to display new quality measures based on MDS 3.0 nursing home resident assessments. These new quality measures will replace the quality measures that currently appear on Nursing Home Compare. CMS will not calculate a 5 Star Overall Rating or a 5 Star Quality Measures Rating based on these data until April 2012.”

To find out more about Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare tool, see Medicare Nursing Home Compare – Find & Compare Nursing Homes

Other Data Included in the Nursing Home Compare Tool Ratings

Some of the other measures of nursing home quality that have been included in the Nursing Home Compare tool include staffing data and data from health inspections. These data will continue to be part of the basis for the overall ratings given to nursing homes by the Nursing Home Compare tool.

As explained in a recent article, “Navigating the Health Care System,” by Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), also part of HHS:

“Staffing and health inspection data add important information and will continue to be a factor in each nursing home’s overall rating. The staffing measure tells you the average staffing levels—such as the number of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and certified nursing assistants—for each resident each day. This is a good benchmark, but it has limits. It does not show the number of nursing staff present at any given time or describe the amount of care give to any one resident. The health inspection measure looks at many major aspects of care in a nursing home. This includes how medicines are managed, whether food is prepared safely, and whether residents are protected from inadequate care. Inspections take place about once a year, but they may be done more often if the nursing home has several problems to correct. ”

Don’t Rely Only on the Compare Tool; Visit the Nursing Home

According to Dr. Clancy, “Even with so much good information, the Nursing Home Compare tool and rating system won’t answer all of your questions. For example, the ratings won’t tell you if the nursing home has improved, or gotten worse, in certain areas since it was rated. That’s why it’s important to visit any facility you are considering.” [emphasis supplied]

“It’s also a good idea to visit a nursing home a second time on a different day of the week and another time of day. You may get a better idea of changes in staff, activities, and other factors that could make a difference in your choice,” Dr. Clancy advises.

And, “Be sure to ask questions of the staff, especially people who provide care to residents,” she counsels.

To find checklists of some of the questions to ask in selecting a nursing home, see the HelpingYouCare™ resource page providing Free Checklists for Caregivers > Checklists on Care Facilities.

Medicare (CMS) also provides a useful Nursing Home Checklist that can be printed out and carried with you to help you record the information you collect on your visits to nursing homes.

More Information

See Your Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home, an official government booklet (a 72 page PDF document) published by HHS, which includes information on how to find and compare nursing homes, how to pay for nursing home care, nursing home resident rights, and alternatives to nursing home care.

Visit the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center to locate an Ombudsman service, state agency or citizen advocacy group near you, that might be able to assist you in finding and evaluating nursing homes, and in addressing quality of care of your loved one at a nursing home.

See also the HelpingYouCare™ resource pages on About Senior Housing and Care Facilities, including:

And see CareHelpFinder™, the HelpingYouCare™ senior-care resource locator tools to help you:

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Copyright © 2011 Care-Help LLC, publisher of HelpingYouCare™.

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