The 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:
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:
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.
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.
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