Quality measures. CMS requires nursing homes to submit clinical data for the latest three calendar quarters detailing the status of each individual Medicare and Medicaid resident in 18 indicators, such as the percentage of residents who had urinary tract infections or who were physically restrained to keep from falling from a bed or a chair. Best Nursing Homes, like Nursing Home Compare, displays all 18 data points for each home. The ratings, however, are based on nine—seven for long-term and two for short-term residents—that are considered the most valid and reliable, such as the two above and other measures related to pain, bedsores, and mobility.
Good ratings or bad, CMS is adamant in cautioning that they are just a starting point. We agree. Nothing substitutes for in-depth visits. You can ask questions, observe residents and their families and caregivers, and get a feel of a home that stars can't communicate. "There are many satisfied residents and families of residents in nursing homes...at the one-star level," states an FAQ posted on the CMS website, which also advises that "no resident should be moved solely on the basis of a nursing home's ratings.... [Transferring] your loved one to a facility that has a higher rating should be balanced with the possible challenges of adjusting to a new nursing home." That is one of many hard truths about finding a home where someone you hold dear can find good care.
[Read How to Choose a Nursing Home.]