Nursing Home Compare is the federal government’s rating system for long-term care facilities eligible for coverage under Medicare. The website recently underwent an overhaul over the past year when Medicare placed stricter requirements for each rating category. The current system uses a 5-star quality rating system. Previously, many nursing homes had 4 or even 5 star scores, making them appear to be attractive options for families. However, with the revisions came a startling plummet in the average score of nursing homes across the country and especially in the state of New York.
The revision adjusted algorithms to dock nursing homes based on issues with performance, staff quality, use of antipsychotics, and inspections. Nursing homes can be awarded 1 through 5 stars, with 5 stars being the most rare and coveted designation. After the revision, nursing home averages dropped. 40% of nursing homes in 11 states now have 1 or 2 star ratings. New York is one of these states.
The state of New York houses 625 nursing homes that are certified by Medicare. 41% of these nursing homes are ranked as 1 or 2 star facilities. In fact, more nursing homes in New York have a 2 star rating than a 5 star rating. This places New York in the bottom 10 for nursing home quality.
Nursing Home Compare allows individuals and their family members to quickly and easily compare certain metrics of available nursing homes. However, nothing is as informative as personally visiting facilities that interest you. Nursing Home Compare is unable to take into account certain factors that may be important to you in your decision making process, such as the distance from the nursing home to a family member’s house or a hospital.
One growing concern with Nursing Home Compare is that it integrates self-reported data on quality of care, as calculated from surveys that the nursing homes complete. Nursing homes may skew their answers on these surveys in order to garner a better rating. By relying on these surveys, Nursing Home Compare’s ratings may even be too generous. However, many nursing homes criticize the system for its reliance on state inspections. The nursing homes argue that each state has its own format for inspections and that inspection intensity and type varies across the country. As such, comparing state inspection results on the website is useless for individuals looking to compare nursing homes in multiple states.
Many residents highly value nursing home proximity to loved ones, and this will greatly limit the number of choices available to them, especially if they are in a less densely populated area. 1 or 2 star rated nursing homes may be the only types of facilities available to some individuals. Nursing Home Compare’s website allows you to input your zipcode to see which facilities are available in your area. While the state of New York does have a large number of nursing homes, a search of the website reveals that many clusters of nursing homes are poorly rated.
Resident advocates argue that a lack of adequate staffing, lax laws on staffing, low salaries that result in high turnover rates, lax penalties, and state and federal officials’ fear of displacing residents of poorly performing homes has led to many of the lower rated homes staying in business despite years of poor reviews and issues. Nursing homes fight back, stating that lack of Medicaid funding prevents them from providing the services necessary to fully care for residents.
Federal law mandates that a nursing home have a registered nurse on duty at least eight hours each day with a licensed vocational nurse available 24/7. However, experts agree that these laws should be broadened to require at least four hours of direct care for each patient every day.
If you or a loved one has suffered personal injuries due to nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the skilled nursing home lawyers at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC today to begin pursuing your just compensation now.