A study recently reported in the NY Times found that consumer satisfaction ratings for nursing homes do not always match up with the ratings given to facilities by their residents and their families. The largest disparity occurred with respect to facilities rated at the highest level (five stars) on Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website. Although one would expect that a facility rated five out of five stars would have excellent satisfaction rates, the survey found otherwise. In many cases, residents expressed very low satisfaction rates at these nursing homes that Medicare had rated at the top of the list. Often, these residents’ families felt the same.
In the Times’ investigation, it was discovered that this discrepancy may be due to differing expectations between Medicare, who ranks the nursing homes, and residents and their families, who deal with everyday life within the facility. While Medicare primarily looks to factors such as infection rate, pressure ulcers/wound care, and medication errors, resident and their families, many of whom are unaffected by these deficiencies, look more to quality of life and dignity within the facility.
Consideration has been given to using feedback from residents and their families into the Medicare rankings, although that has not occurred yet. While it would enable a fuller view of life within nursing homes, the added cost has to be justified to implement such a program. In the meantime, a lesson to be learned for anyone contemplating placing a loved one in a nursing home is to take the Medicare ratings for what they are: accurate measurements based upon the criteria studied, but not necessarily a complete picture of life within a particular nursing home.
The article in the NY Times can be found here.