Bringing a touch of the hospitality industry to the boring but important cause of nursing home quality in the U.S., the federal government this week unveiled a comprehensive website that rates and compares nursing home facilities on a five-star scale.
The rankings site, Nursing Home Compare, gives families and caregivers additional help in selecting appropriate nursing facilities for loved ones. It uses the familiar five-star scale of rating hotels and restaurants to convey three categories of evaluations: health inspections, staffing, and quality measures, such as how many patients developed bedsores or were placed in restraints. The results are also combined into an overall rating.
Nearly 16,000 nursing homes are included on the rankings site, which focuses on facilities that are certified to participate in Medicare or Medicaid. Both for-profit and non-profit homes are ranked.
The site is administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
As OhMyGov! reported in July, the initial nursing home comparison site was difficult to navigate and too vague in its methodology and descriptions. One U.S. senator, in calling for improvements, likened the experience of searching for information to "bureaucratic water torture."
A USA Today analysis of the rankings published today reveals that non-profit facilities fared better than for-profit ones, but that the overall quality of homes left a lot to be desired. Nationally, 23 percent of the nursing homes rated achieved just a "one-star" ranking overall. Louisiana had the highest percentage of one-star facilities of any state, with 39% of its 285 homes garnering that distinction, according to USA Today's analysis.
One of the most useful aspects of the Nursing Home Compare site is the detailed explanation of the ranking criteria, including a candid admission of the strengths and limitations of the five-star ratings system. The site's results will be updated at least quarterly.
Previously on this topic: