Government Takes Steps To Improve Nursing Home Care

For those who want to place a loved one in a nursing home, ensuring the quality of the facility is of paramount importance. This includes verifying the presence of a compassionate, caring staff and professional medical treatment. A system that allows the government to rate nursing homes on a five-star scale may be of help for those who want to choose the right facility. Now that the system has been changed to enhance rigor in the standards, this system is even more useful to families seeking a safe, loving home for their relatives.

How Big Is the Nursing Home Problem?

There are 15,500 nursing homes operating in the United States, and about one-third have a rating of one or two stars on the government’s new rating scale. Common problems include lack of adequate staffing; overuse of anti-psychotic drugs; physical ailments from neglect or lack of care, such as bedsores; and hospital readmission due to lack of proper follow-up care.
Residents in nursing homes are sometimes subjected to abuse and neglect. In serious cases, this abuse can lead to trauma, illness and even death. It is critical to learn about the facility in which you place your elderly or disabled loved one in order to prevent a tragic outcome.

Quality Issues With Nursing Homes

The government’s Nursing Home Compare website offers individuals the opportunity to search for nursing homes and assisted living facilities in their own areas and to read information about these organizations. The government recently made changes to the metrics used to assess nursing homes, incorporating two quality measures for anti-psychotic drug use into the Quality Measure Rating; increasing the number of points necessary to earn a quality rating; and changing the scoring methods for staffing.

Nearly two-thirds of all nursing home ratings dropped as the result of sweeping changes in the way the government assesses these facilities. The average score is 3.14 stars out of a possible five, down from 3.46 stars under the previous rating system. About one-third of non-profit nursing homes rate a five on the new scale, while only 18 percent of for-profit organizations achieve this rating. About 39 percent of all homes with fewer than 60 beds received five-star ratings, while only 14 percent of homes with more than 120 beds did so.

How Can I Find The Right Nursing Home for My Family Member?

In order to find the right nursing home for your loved one, it is very important to conduct research before making a decision. The new government website can help. Simply enter your zip code to read more about facilities in your area.

However, there is no substitute for a visit in person to a facility to learn more about the staff. Interview other families who have placed relatives there. Ask questions about activities, protocols for dispensing medication and how emergency health issues are handled. If you do place your loved one at the facility, be sure to make follow-up visits on a regular basis.

Ultimately, you must take responsibility for learning as much as possible about any facility before placing your loved one there. The government’s website is just one way you can ensure that your relative receives the very best nursing home or assisted living care.