Doing your homework can help with decisions
Choosing a nursing home can be a confusing, difficult journey.
Learn more about the Good Samaritan Society.
U.S. News has evaluated over 15,000 locations across the country and assigned each with two separate ratings: overall rating and short-stay rehabilitation rating. Facilities were considered best nursing homes if they were rated high performing in either the overall or short-stay rating, and not rated worse than average in the other. Click here to learn more about the ratings.
Only 24 percent of the locations that were rated achieved best nursing home status. Included in that list are 46 locations in the Good Samaritan Society.
Learn more at Best Nursing Homes.
Choosing a nursing home can be a confusing, difficult journey.
The site helps you to compare skilled care centers by viewing their ratings in three categories: health inspections, quality measures and staffing.
This rating serves as the base for a nursing home’s overall five-star quality rating.
All nursing homes that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding receive annual unannounced health and safety inspections.
Inspections also take place when someone registers a complaint about a nursing home.
Teams of trained inspectors have a checklist of more than 180 different categories to evaluate, ranging from food preparation to infection control to skin care.
CMS combines the most recent inspection’s results with the past three years’ inspection results to assign a nursing home’s health inspection rating.
One poor health inspection survey can greatly sway a facility’s overall rating. That’s because a nursing home’s overall rating is based on the performance of other centers within a state. So, for example, a three-star center in Minnesota is not necessarily the same as a three-star center in Kentucky.
Only centers with the lowest 10 percent of health inspection deficiency scores in a state earn five-star ratings.
Ratings for staffing solely reflect the facility’s nursing staff levels, including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, licensed vocational nurses, certified nursing assistants and physical therapists.
This rating does not reflect the quality of care given or include any other employees valuable to a nursing home’s operation, such as administrators, dietitians or custodians.
Generally, a five-star rating for staffing means the nursing home has sufficient staffing levels — which are self-reported to the CMS — in both registered nurse hours and total hours worked by all other nursing staff.
Federal law requires a nursing home to have at least one registered nurse on duty for eight straight hours a day, every day of the week. A nursing home also must have a licensed practical nurse or a licensed vocational nurse on duty at all times.
Nursing homes must have enough staff to adequately care for residents. However, there is no federal standard that outlines the best overall nursing home staffing level.
A five-star rating for a nursing home’s staffing does not necessarily mean great people giving great care. The rating only measures staffing levels appropriate for the needs of residents in their care.
Quality measures look at many factors for both long-term and short-term residents.
Examples of information being rated include:
The Nursing Home Compare website details more about quality measures, and why they’re important for you to consider.
Do all nursing homes get a CMS rating? No. Only nursing homes that are Medicare- and Medicaid-certified are included in the CMS’s five-star quality rating system.
Each of these three areas is rated on a scale from one to five. The ratings from these areas are used to calculate CMS’s overall five-star rating for every nursing home.
Click on the tabs below to read more about the CMS rating system.
You’re probably familiar with five-star restaurants and hotels. Generally, we associate five-stars with luxury accommodations or services.
However, Nursing Home Compare ratings are not like those found in Consumer Reports or on Yelp.
The details of how CMS converts information from the different categories into a star rating are somewhat technical.
The important thing to remember is that the ratings are designed to evaluate a nursing home’s performance in each of the three categories relative to other nursing homes in the same state.
That means that a one-star rating does not necessarily indicate that a nursing home is “bad” — it just means that the home’s performance is much below the average performance for nursing homes in that state.
The converse could be said about five-star nursing homes — it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best, it simply means it performed better than other nursing homes in the area.
The website can help you narrow down skilled nursing centers that best fit your family’s needs, and identify questions to ask when you visit the locations.
It’s important to remember that the ratings don’t provide a complete picture about the care or quality of life at that location.
Any rating of a location’s services is just a snapshot in time of a snapshot of care tallied from a snapshot of people.
Ratings can change from month to month, and be affected by a number of factors — some temporary issues that are quickly resolved, some symptoms of larger issues to be addressed.
Try to visit places you think might be a good fit for your parents.
You'll experience things that could never be calculated, like how welcome you feel when you step inside. Or how reassuring staff members are when they respond to your questions. Or how happy your parents become when they’re no longer worried about their own safety.
To help you make the final decision about a nursing home, you should consult as many resources as you can and with which you’re comfortable — surveys, health inspections, referrals, real-person reviews, and, sure, maybe even ratings.
At the Good Samaritan Society, every one of our locations strives every day to provide the best care possible. Our inspection and ratings records are public and on file, available for review by anyone, at any time.
But even more important than the transparency of our records, our mission is on display with every interaction in every one of our locations.
We are called to share God’s love in word and deed, and it’s this daily mission that truly sets us apart.
We encourage you to use anything that helps you narrow your search in an overwhelming market.
These tools can help you get a feel for what others think about a location you probably hadn’t heard of until you needed it right now.
It can be part of helping you process and move forward with this life-changing decision.
But be careful to weigh these numbers with real-life, in-person factors. The best possible research you can do is to visit the location in person.
See where your parents will be. See who their friends will be. See who their caregivers will be. See if your heart and mind feel at peace there.
Trusting your gut can go a long way with decisions like this.
Just remember, if you’re looking for a new home that will offer the care your parents need, in an environment they deserve, that’s not something that can necessarily be found with a number.