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Nationwide care at nursing homes is improving

According to a study compiled by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, more than 560 nursing homes nationwide have not improved their ratings during the 2009-2011 rating period, even after the federal government stepped in and began rating these 15,000 facilities. While many nursing homes have improved over the last three years, many stayed at or near the bottom.

The study data showed that:

  • Nursing homes that received one or two stars fell to 35 percent in 2011 from 40 percent in 2009.
  • Four-and five-star homes increased to 43 percent from 38 percent, while the three star nursing homes remained steady.
  • The ratings come from annual state survey inspections and measure performance and quality. The study also captures how much time nursing home staff spends with each resident.
  • Ratings throughout a year can change as inspections happen year-round.
  • Almost two-thirds of the low performing nursing homes were for-profit nursing homes owned by chains.

Problems that can drop a rating include consistently dirty equipment and linens, mistreatment of patients, and unlicensed caregivers or specialists.

The federal government developed the rating system in an effort to increase transparency for consumers looking into the care of a loved one. Nursing home groups have sometimes found the rating systems too simple and unfair, while supporters feel that it's necessary to keep nursing homes running at a higher standard.

Making the decision to put a loved one in a nursing home or an assisted living facility is never easy and can be a burden on some families because of the guilt that can be involved. So when a family finally finds a nursing home, they expect that the home will meet certain standards of care, safety and cleanliness for the benefit of all residents. Yet, many facilities fail to uphold these standards and the elderly residents end up sick or injured. If you believe that your loved one has experienced negligence, abuse or mistreatment, you should contact an attorney that specializes in nursing home abuse. They understand your feelings of betrayal and will work for you to obtain the results that you and your loved one deserve.

Source: USA Today, "As nursing home care improves, some problems slow to mend," Paul Monies, Feb. 10, 2012

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