Find a 5 Star Nursing Home

Medicare has just made finding a great nursing home for your parent easier.  The agency recently launched a 5 star rating system for nursing find-a-5-star-nursing-home1homes.  The rating system makes it easier for family caregivers to choose among the many facilities that are available.

To be a 5 star nursing home, each nursing home that accepts Medicare is rated based on the results from three sources:

  • health inspection reports completed by state nursing home inspectors,
  • ten quality measures related to patient care
  • staffing levels

Keep in mind that the quality measures and staffing levels are reported by the nursing homes and are not verified by an outside source.

The Medicare Nursing Home Compare

Nursing Home Compare helps you narrow down the list of possibilities when you are seeking a nursing home for your parent.  You can use the site to identify facilities by town, zip code, county, state and other criteria.  This helps you find the best nursing homes where you or your parent live.

You can also use the database for a quality snapshot of the nursing home where your parent has been admitted and how it compares with other facilities.  This is a helpful starting place.  To supplement the information in the Medicare Compare database, follow up with a personal visit.  You can also ask for recommendations from health care professionals and friends.

Creating a Comparison Chart

Selecting the right nursing home can be an overwhelming and confusing experience.  Creating your own comparison chart when visiting more than one nursing home, can help you document your impressions when they are fresh in your mind and later help you distinguish between different facilities to make your final choice.  Medicare provides a comprehensive nursing home checklistthat you can download from their website.

It can be difficult to complete your checklist during the tour.  Review the checklist before the tour and highlight items that are particularly important to you as the caregiver and your family member.  During the tour, be sure to ask about any special needs or concerns that your family member has.

Touring a nursing home can be an emotional experience.  There is a lot to see and remember. It's a good idea to bring a family member or friend along.  After the tour you can take a few minutes to complete the checklist together.

Each state has a Department on Aging which can provide you with state based information about nursing homes and other senior care facilities.  You can locate the Department on Aging information by going to the website of your state or the state that your parent lives in and then drilling down until you find the right information

Your role as your parent's caregiver will change when he or she moves into a nursing home. The best way of making sure your parent is well cared for is to be a visible, active and involved visitor.  When time or distance make this difficult, you can recruit family members and close friends who are willing to be your eyes and ears and check in with your parent.  You can also hire a geriatric care manager to coordinate care for your parent including regular visits to the nursing home.

Share your experience of finding a 5 Star nursing home for your parent.  What helped you the most?

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--Janice Wallace

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