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Nursing Home Ratings: How To Find A High-Quality Home

Nursing Home Ratings: How To Find A High-Quality Home
September 17, 2021

Moving a loved one into a nursing home is an incredibly stressful ordeal, leaving many families struggling with endless questions about their loved one's health and safety. That is why one of the most common concerns when it comes to finding a nursing home is whether the location is a high-quality one. Fortunately, with today's nursing home ratings, choosing the perfect nursing home for your loved one does not have to be as challenging as many people expect it to be. 

The Quality Rating System

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) created the Five-Star Quality Rating System to help individuals, caregivers, and families check out nursing homes and compare them quickly, allowing them to identify the locations best suited for their specific needs. 

Generally, this quality rating system involves giving each nursing home a rating between one and five stars, with five stars indicating that the home is above average quality, while nursing homes with one star are considered to have a quality that is incredibly below average. According to this system, there is one overall five-star rating for the nursing home and a separate rating for each of the following categories:

  • The Staffing: This rating will deal with the number of hours of care provided on average to residents each day. However, this rating will consider the different levels of care that the residents in the nursing home need. For instance, if a nursing home has residents that need quite a bit of help, it should be expected that this location will have more staff on hand than a nursing home with residents whose risks are not as high. 
  • The Health Inspections: A health inspection rating will usually contain investigations due to complaints of the facility and the three most recent health inspections. Typically, this information will be gathered by an objective and trained inspector who will go onsite to the nursing home location and follow a detailed process to determine the extent to which the home has met Medicare and Medicaid's minimum quality requirements. 
  • The Quality Measures: The quality measures rating or the QMs often include information on the 15 different clinical and physical standards for nursing home residents. These ratings offer details about how well the nursing home cares for its residents' clinical and physical needs. 

However, before you decide on a nursing home based only on this rating system, it is important to note that this system does not consider all the factors required to determine if a specific nursing home is the best solution for a particular person. For example, depending on the circumstances, an individual may need more specialized care, such as dementia care, or they may need to see their family members more often. As a result, it may be more beneficial in these situations for the individual to choose a nursing home with a lower quality rating that is closer to the family or provides specialized services for its residents.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman and Nursing Home Ratings 

Another way to verify the quality of a nursing home is to place a call to your Long-Term Care Ombudsman. This office works to not only resolve problems of individual nursing home residents but can also make changes at national, state, and local levels that will improve a nursing home resident's care and quality of life. To do this, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman will visit nursing homes and speak with residents to make sure that their rights are being protected. In addition, they will work with the nursing home to solve problems with their care.

However, more importantly, this office can also discuss information about different nursing homes and the care at these facilities. This means they can help you compare nursing home weaknesses and strengths and answer specific questions you have regarding these different locations, such as:

  • Whether the nursing home received complaints about its care
  • How many complaints has the home received
  • What type of complaints were they
  • Were issues related to these complaints resolved quickly

Other Florida Nursing Home Resources 

It may also be beneficial for you to reach out to the state health department or the state licensing agency and ask for any information they have regarding the quality of the care given in the local nursing homes. These agencies may also be able to provide you with copies of the complete survey regarding this care and the last complaint investigation report they have on file. 

Finally, if you want to have a first-hand account of these facilities, schedule a visit. This way, you can see how these nursing homes are operating in person, how the residents are being treated, the general mood of the residents, and whether you notice any red flags that indicate the place is not meant for you and your family. 

Paying For Great Nursing Home Care

Excellent nursing home care does not often come cheap. Once you have identified the ideal home, you will likely begin to worry about how much it will cost. If you are concerned about finding a way to pay for long-term care, a Medicaid planning attorney can help. Nursing homes in Florida are surprisingly expensive. Our elder care attorneys can help legally and ethically protect your assets and get assistance qualifying for Medicaid ICP benefits in 30 days.

If you need help organizing your finances in order to qualify for Medicaid, contact us today to get started.

Jason Neufeld is the Founder and Managing Partner of Elder Needs Law, a Florida estate planning and elder law firm he created in 2017. With more than 15 years of experience practicing law, he represents clients in a wide range of legal matters, including Medicaid planning, estate planning, elder law, probate, Medicare, and life insurance.

Jason received his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami — School of Law and is a member of the Florida Bar and the Broward County Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named a Rising Star and Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers and among the Florida Legal Elite by Florida Trend in 2024.

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