The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has modified its Nursing Home Compare website and facility Star Ratings. The internet tool was created to help consumers, their families and caregivers to easily compare nursing homes and to identify areas they may want to ask about when looking for nursing home care. CMS says that the April 2019 revisions are part of a broad range of revisions that been under development for the last several years to improve the accuracy and value of the information found on the website site.
“CMS is committed to safeguarding the health and safety of nursing home residents by ensuring they are receiving the highest quality of care possible,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma, in a March 5 statement announcing the website improvements. “Our updates to Nursing Home Compare reflect more transparent and meaningful information about the quality of care that each nursing home is giving its residents. Our goal is to drive quality improvements across the industry and empower consumers to make decisions, with more confidence, for their loved ones,” says Verma.
Taking a Closer Look at CMS’s Rating System
According to CMS, Nursing Home Compare has a quality rating system that gives each nursing home a rating between 1 and 5 stars. Nursing homes awarded 5 stars are considered to have above average quality and nursing homes with 1 star are considered to have quality below average.
Nursing Home Compare also has one overall 5-star rating for each nursing home, and a separate rating for health inspections, staffing levels and quality measures. three factors:
As part of CMS’s ongoing effort to ensure the accuracy of information available to consumers and to drive quality improvement at nursing homes across the country, the agency makes periodic improvements to its website and ratings system.
The April 2019 changes include revisions to the inspection process, enhancement of new staffing information, and implementation of new quality measures.
Better Accuracy in Comparing Facilities with New Revisions
The new website revisions include a lifting of the ‘freeze’ on the health inspection ratings instituted in February 2018. CMS ‘froze’ the health inspection star ratings category after implementing a new survey process for Long-Term Care facilities. Because facilities receive surveys at different times, some facilities would have been surveyed under the old process and others under the new process. Without placing a ‘freeze’ on health inspection star ratings, the facilities would have been scored using two different evaluation processes making the outcomes misaligned and the data inaccurate.
CMS says it ‘froze’ the health inspection star rating score until all nursing homes were surveyed at least once under the new survey process for Long Term Care facilities. This month, consumers will now be able to see the most up to date status of a facility’s regulatory compliance, which is a very strong reflection of a facility’s ability to improve and protect each resident’s health and safety.
Additionally, CMS is now setting higher thresholds and evidence-based standards for nursing homes’ staffing levels. Nurse staffing has the greatest impact on the quality of care nursing homes deliver, which is why the agency analyzed the relationship between staffing levels and outcomes.
CMS notes that as staffing levels increase, quality increases and is therefore assigning an automatic one-star rating when a nursing home reports “no registered nurse is onsite.” Currently, facilities that report seven or more days in a quarter with no registered nurse onsite are automatically assigned a one-star staffing rating, too.
Starting this month, the threshold for the number of days without an RN onsite in a quarter that triggers an automatic downgrade to one-star will be reduced from seven days to four days. CMS is also making changes to the quality component on Nursing Home Compare that would improve identifying differences in quality among nursing homes, raise expectations for quality, and incentivize continuous quality improvement.
To provide further value and remain consistent with CMS’s Meaningful Measures initiative the April 2019 Nursing Home Compare Update includes adding measures of long-stay hospitalizations and emergency room transfers, and removing duplicative and less meaningful measures. CMS is also establishing separate quality ratings for short-stay and long-stay residents and revising the rating thresholds to better identify the differences in quality among nursing homes making it easier for consumers to find the right information needed to make decisions.
Five Star Ratings
We are pleased to announce that Freeport, New York-based Meadowbrook Care Center has a top notch rating of five stars (much above average rating), in every category surveyed (overall rating, health inspections, fire safety, staff, quality of resident care, and penalties). For details go to https://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html.