In mid December, the federal government unveiled its new rating system, which it uses to help advise the public on the quality of care they are receiving from their local area nursing homes. This system will help individuals make informed decisions about the institution they trust with the care of their loved ones.
Under the new system, five stars means a nursing home ranks “much above average,” four stars indicates “above average,” three means “about average,” two is “below average” with a one indicating “much below average.” The rankings will be updated quarterly. Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin stated that the new ranking system would help bolster transparency, which is, “…the key when it comes to nursing home quality.”
Unfortunately, along with the progress of informed decision making came the shocking realization that almost a quarter of all nursing homes in the country have been given the federal government’s lowest possible rating: one out of five stars. Receiving such a low rank in particular had to do with the high percentage of patients with bedsores after their first 90 days in the nursing home and the number of residents whose mobility worsened after admission.
When nursing homes are understaffed, over worked, and improperly trained, the results can be catastrophic. Where there is lack of individual patient attention, pressure sores and decreased mobility are sure to follow. When it comes to protecting your loved ones, please pay strict attention to the federal rating system. Alice Hedt of the Insititute for Nursing Home Reform states that, “Our initial reaction is that consumers should probably avoid any facility with a one- or two-star rating and even a three-star rating unless people they trust convince them that the rating is inaccurate or unfair.” However, the rating system alone is not enough to properly judge. Ms. Hedt advises that, “…Nothing should substitute visiting a nursing home when making a decision.”
If you are in the process of finding a nursing home for your loved one, please pay strict attention to the federal ranking system. If you have a family member already in a nursing home, please remember to check on them regularly. Bedsores are a life threatening injury, and should be checked for regularly. If your family member has been subject to bedsores due to a lack of proper care, please contact an attorney to help remedy the situation as fast as possible.