Monday, December 22, 2008

More On Nursing Home Ratings

The Day reports on the new CMS 5-star rating system for nursing homes. Kathy Pajor, president and executive director of a New London home that got 4 stars, notes the online rating "is no substitute for a first-hand visit." She states: "The public needs to understand that this is only a snapshot of a two-week period,” and is concerned that the rating uses data that fails to distinguish between violations found based on paperwork, and those based on actual patient care. "My concern is that you can jump to conclusions about a building because it has one star or five stars,” she said. “You have to physically go and look. Notice if there are odors, how the residents look, are they neat and clean, does the staff seem happy. When you observe staff taking care of a resident, do they do it in a loving way?”

The National Senior Citizens Law Center made a similar point in press release last week, calling the five-star system "a beginning, not an end." The NSCL says better nursing homes today offer "resident-centered" care in which "the nursing home meets residents' individual needs." When looking for a nursing home, consumers should talk to the staff about how they will meet their loved one's needs, and existing residents and their family members should be asked for their opinions. "It may not always be true that (for example) a four-star nursing home is better than a two-star nursing home."

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