Tuesday Tips for Caregivers – Nursing Home Star Ratings
Deciding to place your loved one in a skilled nursing facility is never an easy decision. When the time comes, the number one question we are asked by family members is “How do I choose a nursing home”?
If you live in Florida, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) publishes The Nursing Home Guide which lists nursing homes by region and county. The Guide also includes facility-specific comparative information including a star ranking based upon deficiencies cited during inspections. The electronic version of the Guide is updated quarterly and posted on the Agency’s web site approximately 45 days after the end of the calendar quarter (by the 15th calendar day of the second month following the end of the calendar quarter).
Also, the website, http://www.medicare.gov/, provides a good starting point on its Nursing Home Compare page by sharing information about nursing facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
What Do Nursing Home Inspections Include?
The state conducts annual health and fire safety inspections on all nursing homes. These inspections cover a variety of factors including the nursing homes policies and procedures for providing care, residents’ rights, quality of life, medication management, skin care, resident assessment, food service, building environment and nursing home administration.
When a nursing home doesn’t meet a certain standard during the inspection, a deficiency is assigned, and the facility is given the opportunity to make improvements. The star rating given to the facility is based on the number, type and severity of the deficiencies received during the previous three annual inspections, as well as the number of additional visits required by the state to confirm that all of the necessary corrections have been made.
Quality measures scores are calculated through a review of clinical data, which is submitted to the state by each facility. Some of the areas that are evaluated include the presence of skin breakdown due to pressure; the use of physical restraints, urinary catheters, and antipsychotic medications; pain management; and the occurrence of falls.
For those residents who are admitted for a short-term stay, additional areas of evaluation include re-hospitalizations, the percentage discharged to the community and the percentage of those who demonstrate functional improvements or declines.
Scores based on staffing evaluate the total staffing hours per resident per day of nurses, physical therapists, and nursing assistants. This value is combined with the number of registered nurse hours per resident per day. These numbers are self-reported to the state by each facility.
Nursing home facilities usually receive a score of one to five stars in each area noted above. While the star rating system for nursing homes is valuable, families who are researching nursing home care options for a loved one should use this information in conjunction with a personal visit or visits to a facility and the experiences of current and previous residents when making their decision.
How to Find the Best Nursing Home in Palm Beach County
To schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our Aging Life Care Professionals™, we can assist you as you begin your search for the best nursing facility in Palm Beach County, call or email us today.