What Do the Stars Say About Nursing Homes?

What Do the Stars Say About Nursing Homes?

Posted By The Maher Law Firm || 26-Jun-2015

Our Orlando nursing home abuse lawyers report on nursing home ratings.

If you are considering life in a nursing home for your elderly loved one, you are right to be concerned about the quality of care at the home and the risk of nursing home abuse and neglect.

One tool you can use to research homes near you is Nursing Home Compare. This is a government-run site. It provides information about every Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched Nursing Home Compare in 1998 to help consumers and their families find a nursing home and to encourage nursing homes to achieve higher quality through public reporting of nursing home performance, the Kaiser Family Foundation explains.

CMS gives nursing homes ratings that range from 1 to 5 stars based on quality scores. While the ratings provide additional means for consumers to compare nursing homes, some criticize the heavy reliance on self-reported data.

In February 2015, CMS modified its star rating system to address some of these concerns. CMS is planning additional changes in the future.

How Does Nursing Home Compare Arrive At Its Ratings?

The nursing home ratings on Nursing Home Compare are based on:

  • Results of state health inspections - This includes health deficiencies issued during the three most recent state inspections and recent complaint investigations.
  • Staffing levels - Federal law requires all nursing homes to provide enough staff to adequately care for residents, CMS states. However, there is no current federal standard for the best nursing home staffing levels. Staffing level data collected by CMS includes the number and staffing hours of:
    • Registered nurses (RNs)
    • Licensed practical nurses (LPNs)
    • Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs)
    • Certified nursing assistants (CNAs)
    • Physical therapists (PTs).
  • Quality measures - The measures include whether residents get their flu shots, suffer pain, lose weight, experience falls and suffer from bed sores that have worsened.

All data collected on some 15,000 nursing homes nationwide by Nursing Home Compare is public information.

Kaiser Gets 'Snapshot' of Nursing Homes Based on CMS Data

Kaiser recently analyzed the Nursing Home Compare data from February 2015 and came up with a "snapshot" of nursing homes at the state and national levels.

Kaiser's goal was to show how ratings vary nationally and by state and by the characteristics of nursing homes. The goal was not to assess the validity or reliability of the CMS ratings system.

Kaiser's key findings were:

  • More than one-third of nursing homes certified by Medicare or Medicaid have relatively low overall ratings of 1 or 2 stars.
  • About 45 percent of nursing homes have overall ratings of 4 or 5 stars.
  • For-profit nursing homes tend to have lower star ratings than non-profit nursing homes. Small nursing homes (fewer beds) tend to have higher star ratings than larger facilities.
  • Ratings tend to be higher for measures that are self-reported (quality measures and staffing levels) than for measures derived from state health inspections.
  • In 11 states, at least 40 percent of nursing homes had relatively low ratings (1 or 2 stars). In 22 states and the District of Columbia, at least 50 percent of the nursing homes had relatively high overall ratings (4 or 5 stars).
  • States that have higher numbers of low-income seniors tend to have lower-rated nursing homes.

In Florida, according to the report, the breakdown of nursing homes was:

Number of Stars












Howard Gleckman a contributor to Forbes magazine who has written extensively about nursing homes and Medicare / Medicaid issues, found these facts in the report to be of interest:

  • Nursing homes affiliated with continuing care communities have higher overall ratings than those that are not.
  • Facilities in states with large numbers of low-income older residents rate more poorly than those in states with fewer poor seniors.
  • There is a wide variation in quality among states. In five states, more than 20 percent of facilities received 1 star. In seven states, at least 30 percent received top scores.

However, Gleckman points out, star-based ratings should only be a start to one's research.

"If I were looking for a nursing facility, either for rehab or for long-term care, I'd probably start with the Medicare rating system. But I'd never stop there. I'd visit facilities, talk to staff, residents and their families, and eat a meal or two in the dining room," he writes.

Indeed, in its conclusion, Kaiser states that, despite the information available through Nursing Home Compare:

"[R]esearchers, reporters and advocates have continued to identify serious quality concerns among some of the nation's nursing homes, including those that relate to inadequate staffing, high rates of preventable conditions, such as pressure ulcers [bed sores], and fire safety hazards. A recent study, for example, found that almost one in five nursing homes had deficiencies that caused harm or immediate jeopardy to residents."

The Maher Law Firm can help if you or a loved one has been harmed while trusted to the care of a nursing home in Florida. We can help put an end to the abuse and neglect, ensure your case is reported to the proper authorities and seek compensation you deserve.

Contact us today if you have concerns about your loved one's treatment in a nursing home.

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