There are many things to think about when considering moving to a nursing home. These things are the same whether it is a single building or is part of a senior living community offering a continuum of care. Important questions include: How close is the community to family and friends? And, does the community have a good reputation? One of the most important considerations can also be one of the hardest to get answers to: Is the Care Center, where you get 24-hour nursing care, one of good quality?
Whether you or your loved one need to move to a care setting right away, or are considering moving into Independent Living and planning for possible future needs, knowing the quality of a community’s Care Center is a significant part of the decision-making process.
One tool that can be used when researching senior living communities is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Five-Star Quality Rating System.
The ratings can be found on the CMS Nursing Home Compare website and rank from one to five stars. A one-star ranking is much below average, while a five-star ranking is much above average. To help older adults and families make better informed decisions, CMS updates ratings quarterly. A Care Center receives an overall rating as well as specific ratings for Health Inspections, Staffing, and Quality Measures. Here is what the rating areas cover:
- The Health Inspection rating is composed of the Care Center’s three most recent health inspections and any investigations that may have resulted from a complaint.
- The Staffing rating includes information about the average number of hours of care nursing staff provide to each resident each day.
- The Quality Measures rating is based on 15 different physical and clinical measures for nursing home residents and offers information about how well nursing homes are caring for those needs.
While you can look up the ratings yourself, you can also ask any Care Center for their most current ratings. Used with other research and personal considerations, the CMS Five-Star Quality Rating System provides additional information to help you make an important decision for yourself or for your loved one.