What happened to nursing home ratings?

Nursing homes across the country have been affected by the federal government’s decision to adjust the curve used for their ratings, Medcaire.gov Nursing Home Compare. The change has made it more difficult for nursing homes to be awarded ratings of four or five stars. The new ratings went public February 20 and affected nearly one-third of the nations nursing homes.

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Utilized by nearly 1.5 million consumers, this rating system assesses the care of more than 15,000 facilities. The quality-of-care scores dropped for 61% of nursing homes, though many nursing homes maintained their overall rating.

As Patrick Conway, deputy administrator and chief medical officer at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told USA Today, “[The ratings are] raising the standards for nursing homes to achieve a high rating.”

He also acknowledge that new ratings “do not necessarily indicate a change in the care provided.”

The ratings score measured multiple facets: state inspection performance, levels of staffing and quality of care. These ratings are meant to create ongoing improvements in the quality of these facilities. Earlier in October, the federal government implemented a requirement that nursing homes report their quarterly staffing levels.

As USA Today reports:

“While the new quality ratings are meant to give consumers a more refined picture of the care that specific nursing homes provide, Conway stresses that they are only one tool. He urges people shopping for a nursing home to tap other resources, such as local long-term care ombudsmen, and to get feedback from residents and their relatives when considering a facility.”

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