Three steps to help you use the Consumer Health Ratings guide for nursing home ratings:
1. Check the federal government’s Nursing Home Compare site, and compare the star ratings (and details) for the nursing homes you’re interested in.
2. Visit your state’s web site to see inspection reports and complaints on nursing homes in your county and county-wide averages.
3. Check the list of Special Focus Facilities (SFFs). Is this nursing home on it? If so, do a deep dive on what is happening at the nursing home before choosing it. SFFs have a history of serious quality problems. See what options you have and plan to visit the facilities you’re interested in, before you decide.
Free 5-star ratings from Nursing Home Compare for nursing homes that are Medicare or Medicaid certified and provide skilled nursing care. Quality ratings, nursing staffing and CNA hours per resident day, and results from survey inspection reports are updated with 2021 data. If you cannot find the nursing home you’re interested in, the facility might not accept Medicare and Medicaid patients. A one-star rating on the inspections means that nursing home is in the bottom 20% of all nursing homes. Check your state reports for additional information. Consumers can also ask the nursing facility to share their reports on resident and family satisfaction. Good nursing homes welcome your inquiry. Nursing Home Compare is now part of Medicare’s Care Compare mega-site.
CMS lists nursing homes in any state and District of Columbia that have a history of serious quality problems. These Special Focus Facilities (SFF) have been officially entered into the federal government’s SFF program to monitor care. Homes on the list may have a history of “yo-yo” compliance, with a good survey followed by substandard quality on the next, thus unable to sustain good care. Some nursing homes are listed as Showing Improvement or having graduated out of the program. In addition, CMS now reports hundreds of nursing homes (nearly 7 pages) that are candidates for the SFF program, based on quality issues over the prior 3 years. Up to 30 nursing homes per state are on the Special Focus Facility Candidate list (Table F). These nursing homes are likely just as troubled as those in the SFF program. Beware if your nursing home is on the SFF list. Updated June 30, 2021.
Find the Covid vaccination rates for nursing home staff by facility, across the US. Click on “list of every nursing home with recent resident and staff vaccination rates” to see both staff and resident vaccination rates. (The map view only shows some nursing homes, and skips some well-performing nursing homes, without explaining why they are omitted.) The list is in Excel spreadsheet fashion, so use the Control-F shortcut to quickly find the nursing home you’re looking for. A separate tab shows nursing homes that have at least 75% of their staff vaccinated as of Sept. 5, 2021. Fewer than 1/3 of more than 15,000 nursing homes have reached this level. Unvaccinated, infected staff can (and do) spread Covid to nursing home residents and cause breakthrough infections for some residents who have been vaccinated. Published by CMS.
Compare quality at long-term care hospitals for inpatient rehab in the US. Site is called Long Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Compare. These hospitals may also be referred to as long term acute care (LTAC) facilities. Compare 3 hospitals at one time, side by side, on quality measures for each hospital. Infections, complications, percent of staff that got their flu vaccination, effective care, and more. Graph view will show the actual performance results. Most data are from two years ending Sept. 30, 2019. Provided by Medicare.gov, September 2021.
Look up your nursing home to see how many confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths occurred among residents and staff as of September 19, 2021. CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) reports that nearly 700,000 nursing home resident confirmed cases have occurred nursing homes. All nursing homes are required to report. The nursing homes that reported also indicated nearly 137,000 Covid deaths had occurred. More than 640,000 staff have also contracted Covid, with more than 2,000 staff deaths. The report is updated weekly. Scroll down to “Resources for Using and Understanding the Data”, or use the filter in the Nursing Home Dataset, using the name of the facility. You must click on Apply, in order for the filter to work. Unfortunately, it’s not user-friendly.
Find accredited healthcare facilities in all states, by The Joint Commission (TJC). TJC is formerly JCAHO – Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. It accredits hospitals and other healthcare organizations. Quality Check provides accreditation and comparison information for hospitals, behavioral health care, home health/hospice, laboratories, some nursing homes (called nursing care centers) & assisted living centers, and other health care services. A few actual scores for acute care hospitals and behavioral health (mental health) programs may be available for 2019. For nursing homes, consumers are advised also to check state inspection reports . We recently discovered a 1-star Florida nursing home (the lowest possible rating in the state) had been accredited by the Joint Commission. Consumers are always advised to check multiple sources and ratings when researching quality of care. Conflicts in scores may suggest quality is not consistent.
Eldercare Locator is a way to search for services supporting senior independent living. US Department of Health and Human Services provides a free public service through the US Administration on Aging, to help seniors and caregivers find resources anywhere in the country. In addition to the website, you may call 1-800-677-1116 on weekdays to speak with someone who can help (English or Spanish). Very easy to use, by putting in your zip code.
The List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE) is a Medicare fraud prevention site by the HHS Office of Inspector General. It allows consumer to search for a specific name of a person or business to see if they have been excluded from receiving payment from Medicare and Medicaid, due to license revocation, suspension or surrender; program-related fraud; patient abuse or neglect, and other reasons such as default on Health Education Assistance Loans. Exclusions Database contains physicians, nurses, nurses’ aides, hospital employees, pharmacists, nursing home operators and more. More than 74,000 names on the list as of April 2021.
According to the American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance , the average cost of long-term care insurance premium was $3,400 per year in 2019 for a 60-year old couple. (This is equal to about $3,538 in 2020 dollars, with medical inflation.) For a 60-year old female, the 2019 cost was $3,050 per year ($3,174 with medical inflation). Consumers should check current prices with their insurance broker, as prices may have increased. Three-fourths of people who purchased long-term care insurance were between ages 50 and 69. Another good reference for those considering long-term care insurance is an older report published in January 2017 by LifePlans for AHIP, America’s Health Insurance Plans.
If you’re a caregiver for a senior, find additional resources here. The Aging Life Care Association (formerly the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers) has compiled an extensive list of resources for seniors and their caregivers. Categories include associations, community/social services, government and care management. Consumers can also search for an Aging Life Care Expert.
Consumer Health Ratings’ category of Seniors, Age 65+ provides extra selected resources for caregivers and older adults. Resources are listed on eldercare, home safety, finding an Aging Life Care Professional, health issues as one ages, avoiding falls, things to know about nursing homes. These resources are free, and can be accessed through Learn More/Health Conditions (click the “See Also” title above).
Fast Facts by American Health Care Association (AHCA) shows a few characteristics in aggregate on 15,655 skilled nursing facilities in the US (June 2015). Brief sketch only. A more detailed publication (also 2015) from the federal HHS, the Nursing Home Data Compendium 2015, is also available (not linked above). Perhaps a more useful chart is the one showing the big drop in nursing home occupancy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Occupancy trend line is shown from the beginning of January 2020 to September 2021. Nursing home occupancy dropped from 80% to 67.5% in early January 2021. It has since regained some ground to 72.3% September 5, 2021.