Nursing Home Care
FINALLY! The five-star quality rating system for Medicare.gov’s Nursing Home Compare has been drastically updated, becoming much more rigorous thanks in part to consumer demand. With this new and improved five-star quality scale, many families will be able to better assess a potential nursing home according to its rating, knowing that some important quality standards have finally been taken into account.

However, many families with a loved one already in a nursing home may find that their nursing home’s score has dropped, even though there may not have been any noticeable changes made in the home’s policies or procedures. You can thank the more rigorous standards for that, standards we believe will better help everyone who is in charge of finding the right nursing home for their loved one.

While we applaud this new quality scale, it is creating some waves by drawing attention to just how dire (and sometime unsafe) some nursing homes may be — and how even subpar nursing homes might be more common than we’d like to imagine.

In fact, almost one third of the nation’s nursing homes are receiving lower scores due to the governments new rating system; in comparison, only around 2.3% of nursing homes had increased ratings under the new system.

Unfortunately, a large portion of the decline is due to scores for quality of care; while the national average used to be a much better sounding 4.18, the new standards have lowered the national average for quality of care to just 3.3 stars.

3.3 stars. It’s not a promising number, when you’re considering residential care for your loved one. What’s more, and this is truly scary, the quality of care category includes the use of antipsychotic drugs, as more and more residential homes may be relying on these potent drugs to “calm” residents down — even though there is no medical need and the resident has not been diagnosed with schizophrenia, Tourette’s Syndrome or Huntington’s Disease, for instance.

In addition to quality of care, the new rating system also looks at staffing levels and performance in state inspections, two categories that are also critical to  take into account.

The ratings were given to over 15,000 nursing homes around the country that participate in Medicare and Medicaid and are on the Nursing Home Compare website. All in all, these nursing homes account for approximately 1.5 million residents.

If there was ever a time to do some extra homework on where your loved one is receiving residential care, or on the residential treatment facilities options you have for your elderly loved one, now would be the time.

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Unfortunately, for far too many families, this new rating scale came far too late. If you know someone who was hurt in a nursing home and suffered serious harm, please contact an elder abuse lawyer at Baron and Budd.

There is still so much to do to protect our elderly loved ones in residential care, and this new rating scale helps to shed light on just how many people may be suffering today.