Nov 17, 2018

U.S. News Nursing Home Ratings Explained

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Since 2009, The U.S. News and World Report started to provide ratings for over fifteen thousand of nursing homes in the Country. According to the U.S. News and World Report, on any given day in America, approximately 1.4 million people will wake up in a nursing home. The U.S. News stated that their reasoning for adding nursing homes to their many institutional ratings is that they wanted families of those who needed care, to have a starting point for their research.

The U.S. News assigns the ranking of a nursing home by evaluating the facility in three different areas. These areas are State conducted health inspections, nurse staffing, and medical quality measures.  There is also a reliance on the data received from Nursing Home Compare, which is operated by Medicare and Medicaid services. Much of the information relied on is self-reported and not accurate.

Nursing home rankings have decreased due to several factors and changes within the ranking system. Some of these changes include federal level policies regarding health quality surveys and regulations. The way that Nursing homes have started to submit employee data is also changing. Nursing homes are now using payroll based journal systems.

It is important to note that all Medicare and Medicaid facilities were eligible for evaluation. Out of the thousands of nursing homes evaluated, “A total of 2,975 facilities were recognized by U.S. News as Best Nursing Homes — 1,837 in overall care and 1,874 in short-stay rehab. 736 nursing homes received this designation in both overall and short-stay care” (U.S. News).

Furthermore, U.S. News capped some of the Nursing Home rankings, “…for example, if a facility exhibited a pattern of rehabilitation care that appeared to be billing centered…rather than patient centered” (U.S. News). Again, like previous articles regarding Nursing Homes rankings, the U.S. News states that these rankings should only be the beginning of research, and that the best way to evaluate a facility is if you make a personal visit.

According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, all of these changes have caused lots of confusion and discrepancies. The Journal also states that because of these issues, Nursing home rankings have slipped, and some into the one star level. Furthermore, another key challenge is staffing. The VP of Kansas Health Care Association, Linda Mowbray stated that her organization has brought workers from overseas in order to fill the very large staffing gap in Nursing Homes, and that immigration could be beneficially to the industry. This is not a Rankings are important; however, no matter the ranking, it is best to visit the Nursing Home, and develop a relationship with staff, versus relying solely on rankings.

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