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There are many resources available to help with decisions about the quality of nursing home care or about alternative models of care. Exploring all of your options will ensure that you make the most informed choice possible.
The following government websites compare Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes, primarily based on information from annual state inspection reports. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) contracts with each State to conduct onsite inspections that determine whether its nursing homes meet the minimum Medicare and Medicaid quality and performance standards. The State conducts inspections of each nursing home that participates in Medicare and/or Medicaid every 9 – 15 months. There are over 180 regulatory standards that nursing homes must meet at all times. State inspection or “survey” reports can be obtained from the MA Department of Public Health, Division of Health Care Quality (conducts CMS inspections in MA), the facility itself, or the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. Some health inspection data is also available on the Nursing Home Compare website (below). Each facility is required by law to make the latest state inspection report available for examination in a place readily accessible to residents.
Effective December 18, 2008, CMS initiated a Five-Star Quality Rating System for nursing homes based on three sources of data: health inspections, staffing, and quality measures. CMS outlines the System’s strengths and weaknesses as part of the Nursing Home Compare site (under "What is Nursing Home Compare", select "Five-Star Quality Rating"). For background, on the February 2015 improvements to the Five-Star Quality Rating System, see the following report from several national advocacy organizations: Government Changes to Nursing Home Ratings Were Necessary, Overdue.
This is a CMS initiative to identify nursing homes that have a record of persistently poor survey performance which have been selected for more frequent inspections and monitoring (above link also includes a listing of SFF nursing homes).
Evaluation scores and detailed synopses of the performance of Massachusetts nursing homes during their three most recent inspectional surveys for Medicaid/Medicare recertification. You can call the MA Department of Public Health at (617) 753-8000 to obtain survey information on facilities for which no tool is available.
* These comments (quoted from the Nursing Home Compare website) can be applicable to both Nursing Home Compare and the MA Survey Performance Tool:
…”The inspections measure whether the nursing home meets certain “minimum” standards. If a nursing home has no deficiencies, it means that it met the minimum standards at the time of the inspection. Inspections don’t identify nursing homes that give outstanding care.
While reading these reports, keep in mind that the quality of a nursing home may get much better or much worse in a short period of time. These changes can occur when a nursing home's administrator or ownership changes or when a nursing home's finances suddenly change.
For the most current information on nursing homes, or to find out more about inspections, contact your Long Term Care Ombudsman's office or the State Survey Agency in your area.…”