We all want to live out our twilight years in peace—and we all want the same for our loved ones as well. But choosing the right nursing home or elder-care facility can be a tricky decision. Fortunately, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has created the Five-Star Quality Rating System to help. Older adults, their families, and their caregivers can all utilize this system to compare nursing homes. Read on to find out more.
Under this system, facilities are rated based on (1) health inspections, (2) staffing, and (3) quality measures. Each category is assigned a rating out of five. The average of all three ratings makes up the overall score of a facility. You can use the Nursing Home Compare website to see the rankings for facilities in your area.
A facility’s three most recent health inspections and complaint-driven investigations are the basis of its health inspections rating. Such data is collected on-site by specially trained inspectors. They must follow a specific process to determine how thoroughly a facility has met both Medicaid and Medicare’s minimum quality requirements. The most recent survey findings are the most weighted for the ranking. Any home deficiencies count against the rating.
There are a few different factors that can affect a facility’s staffing score. Primarily, there is a focus on how many hours of hands-on care each resident experiences per day. It is important to note that this rating accounts for any differences in the levels of resident need. Thus, nursing homes with high-need residents should have more staff members than those with low-need residents.
Fifteen different physical and clinical measures make up a facility’s quality measures score. These QMs are carefully chosen indicators of how well a facility cares for its residents’ physical and clinical needs. They encompass a variety of function and health status markers.
A facility’s overall rating is the composite of its three subscores. Each category’s score is adjusted accordingly. For example, a facility with very high health inspection and quality measure rankings will also have its staffing ranking adjusted up. However, a Special Focus Facility can only have a maximum overall rating of 3 stars.
Keep in mind, however, that rankings are not the definitive end-all, be-all. In the CMS’ own words, “No rating system can address all of the important considerations that go into a decision about which nursing home may be best for a particular person. […] Consumers should, therefore, use the Web site only together with other sources of information for the nursing homes (including a visit to the nursing home) and State or local organizations (such as local advocacy groups and the State Ombudsman program).”
Like the CMS says, nothing can replace an actual visit to a nursing home. You may want to keep your eye out for a few determining factors while “shopping around.” Choosing an elder-care facility may feel urgent, but remember to take your time. You do not want to feel pressured into a decision you will later regret. When visiting a nursing home, it may help to look out for the following: a “resident-first” mentality, flexible visiting hours, and enriching activities.
Residents should never feel defined by their illnesses or disabilities. Nursing home staff members should always treat residents with the respect they deserve. It is safe to say that a nursing home resident is probably at their most vulnerable state. They deserve more than ever to feel autonomous and empowered. Take note of how staff members treat residents. Are they happy and ready to help? Caring, competent staff is especially important for residents dealing with complications like Alzheimer’s or dementia. A compassionate staff member can do wonders to ease discomfort.
Allowing residents autonomy and enriching activities go hand in hand to ensure that they have a smooth transition into the next stage of life. Good nursing homes let residents make their own decisions—and they give residents a wide variety of choices. Residents should have the option to partake in meaningful physical, interactive, educational, and social activities. Otherwise, they may find themselves left with dulled minds and senses. Proper stimulation is key to a happy elderhood.
Of course, it is vitally important for residents to maintain contact with the “outside world,” such as their friends and family. The best nursing homes have open visiting hours and even allow the occasional overnight visit. Certain situations may make this even more desirable. For instance, if your mother has recently had surgery, then you will probably feel better if you can keep her company throughout the night. Ask staff members about how they would handle such scenarios before you make a final decision.
Choosing the right elder-care facility can exponentially minimize the chances of your loved one being victimized. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse can still happen anywhere—even the best facility. As our aging population grows, nursing homes become more and more crowded. Every nursing home resident should know their federally-guaranteed rights and protections, classified into the following categories:
Some states also have their own laws and regulations regarding nursing home residents’ rights. Speak privately to your loved one if you suspect they may be a victim of elder abuse.
If you or a loved one have recently fallen victim to nursing home abuse, we at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced nationwide nursing home abuse attorneys. Let us fight for you.