If you are looking into nursing homes, you probably have used the government’s five star rating system to compare them. The rating system has been around since 2009, and looks primarily at staffing levels and rates the quality of care residents receive. But there is a major problem with this system. The numbers are self-reported, calling the credibility of the entire rating system into question.
As you can imagine, self-reported ratings has led to institutions inflating their scores. This unverified data earned some nursing homes top ratings despite having a history of quality breaches. Medicare beneficiaries that rely upon these facilities received second-rate assistance and the facilities got away with it because they were not examined thoroughly by a third party. This fraudulent reporting is likely to have impaired the quality of life for many seniors across the nation.
Medicare is now working to fix the problems with the rating system. Since high staffing levels generally attribute to better quality within hospice care and nursing homes, changes are being made in how staffing is reported. Nursing homes are now starting to integrate an electronic system that can track staffing levels by cross-checking payroll data. This electronic system, commissioned and signed into law by President Obama, cost nearly $11 million for reporting to begin.
To verify the accuracy of the quality scores, Medicare is introducing a nationwide auditing program. These reports will help quantify the amount of patients that are not receiving adequate care. Hospices must now be inspected at least once every three years, and nursing homes will undergo random inspections and audits.
In addition to increasing the reliability of how nursing homes are scored, Medicare will closely examine the number of residents who are administered antipsychotic drugs. These drugs have been used to calm residents who suffer from dementia within nursing homes, but abuse is all too common. This new examination will be important in determining whether or not residents are being improperly sedated.
These changes are the start to a necessary change. It is a step in the right direction towards accountability for these organizations. Not only will accurate scores help you choose a nursing home, they will help increase the quality of nursing homes in general. If you are looking for additional information on nursing home ratings, check out LiveSenior.Org for details on 15,000 nursing homes in the United States.