The New York Times’ front page article on August 24, 2014, featured a story Medicare Star Ratings Allow Nursing Homes to Game the System. The article reveals that Medicare’s five star rating system for nursing homes often gives unsubstantiated high rating to sub-par nursing homes. The article discloses that nursing home ratings are often based on information contributed by the nursing homes themselves, without any collaboration.
Read what the New York Times has to say about Medicare’s Nursing Home Rating System…
“The Medicare ratings, which have become the gold standard across the industry, are based in large part on self-reported data by the nursing homes that the government does not verify. Only one of the three criteria used to determine the star ratings — the results of annual health inspections — relies on assessments from independent reviewers. The other measures — staff levels and quality statistics — are reported by the nursing homes and accepted by Medicare, with limited exceptions, at face value.” NYT’s 8/24/2014 click here to read more
This is no surprise to many eldercare professionals like myself, who visit highly rated nursing homes with sub-standard service. In one instance I was touring a 5 star rated Manhattan facility, when a man came up to my guide to complain that his mother had been left naked and exposed in her room for over 15 minutes.
In my book Almost Like Home: A Family Guide to Navigating the Nursing Home Maze, I emphasize the importance of never taking a recommendation of any facility at face value. Always visit a nursing home before making a selection. And be sure to visit a nursing home more than once! A nursing home facility can appear totally different at different times of the day, and different days of the week. This is because nursing facilities have more staff at peak hours, and less in the evenings and on weekends. You should confirm that the facility gives first rate service at all times.