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Which Nursing Home Ratings Can You Trust?

What Nursing Home Ratings Can You Really Trust?

Choosing a nursing home for a loved one can be overwhelming, frustrating, and scary.
With nursing homes and assisted living facilities closing their doors at alarming rates, it’s getting more difficult to find a reliable place to care for your loved ones.
There are multiple resources online to help aid you in your decision when picking a nursing home, but which ones can you really trust?

Types of Nursing Home Ratings

Medicare – Nursing Home Compare
Medicare is one of the most popular and well-known rating systems when it comes to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Medicare measures these facilities based on quantifiable data from three sources: the federal government’s health inspection database, a national database of resident clinical data, and Medicare claims data.
To come up with the final star rating for each nursing home, Medicare first looks at the health inspections rating. They will add a star for a good staffing rating or subtract a star for a one-star health inspection rating. After that, Medicare will add a star if the quality of resident care is rated at five stars and will subtract a star if the quality is one star. It’s important to note that if the health inspection rating is just one star for a specific nursing home, the overall Medicare Nursing Home Compare rating cannot be increased by more than one star based on other ratings like staffing and quality of resident care.
Add a Star When:

  • A nursing home has a good staffing rating
  • Quality of resident care rating is five stars

Subtract a Star When:

  • A nursing home has a one-star health inspection rating
  • Quality of resident care rating is one star

Although Medicare requires on-site inspections every 12-15 months, nursing homes typically report their own staffing and quality measures themselves, leading critics of the Medicare rating system to believe that some facilities inflate numbers for their own benefit.
Yelp
Yelp is one of the most popular crowd-sourced review websites on the internet. Because anyone can log in and write a review, Yelp’s nursing home reviews are more personal and qualitative. A study conducted by Anna Rahman, an assistant professor at USC, found that most nursing home reviews on Yelp focused on intangible things like attitudes and responsiveness rather than Medicare’s more tangible topics like staff rating and health inspections.
A benefit of looking at Yelp when evaluating nursing homes is the assurance that the people leaving reviews have experienced the facility first hand, whether they stayed there themselves or, more likely, had a friend or family member who was a resident.
One of the downsides of using only Yelp to assist in choosing a nursing home, however, is the subjectiveness of the ratings. Because family members are often the ones writing the reviews, it’s possible that they had a different experience than the actual resident- and it’s nearly impossible to decipher which reviews reign true for the residents themselves.
Another downside to Yelp is the lack of reviews in the healthcare industry category. Even if a specific nursing home is rated on Yelp, there are usually little to no reviews written for each facility.

The Solution

Medicare and Yelp ratings for the same facility often show completely different opinions. Because Medicare is more quantitative-data focused and Yelp leans towards qualitative measures, it’s important to use a combination of both when evaluating each nursing home. A complete picture can only be drawn by looking at important factors like staffing and health inspections while also reading about the personal experiences of residents and loved ones at the facility in question.

Rahman, the assistant professor at USC, expresses her desire for collaboration between Medicare and Yelp, allowing people to leave a “Yelp-like score” on Nursing Home Compare, the same place where people can see data from the federal government, a resident clinical database, and Medicare claims.
Until then, tap into all the resources available including Medicare, Yelp, and this map of Ohio nursing home staffing ratings to aid in your decision.
If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at (216)-285-9991 or fill out our contact form online. Tittle & Perlmuter’s experienced nursing home neglect and abuse lawyers can help you today.

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