Updated: Jul 12, 2018
Medicare can be a daunting and confusing service. But if used correctly and accurately Medicare can be a powerful and helpful tool for caregivers and elders alike. The area of this website that we are most interested in today is the Nursing Home Compare. Medicare.gov can help you pick a care facility that will help you or your loved ones assess and determine which care homes in your desired area are the best fit for your needs. I am going through this information because of a conversation I had had with a woman a while back. We were just chitchatting and did not know each other, when she looked at her watch and had to leave to check on her mother in the local nursing home. My interest was peaked being a Gerontologist, because my belief is that this woman should trust her mother's care to the nursing home staff. I was saddened to hear she did not. I told her about my profession and she immediately asked me for my help. Her mother was in a home this woman did not trust because she did not know what other options were available. They were new to the area and her mother had dementia. After hearing some of the fears this woman had I directed her to Medicare.gov. She did not know the site or how to navigate it, so I directed her in detail as I will do for you in case you are facing the same dilemma.
Log on to Medicare.gov to reach the home screen. You have the option to open up an account or to sign into the website. Or you can bypass that and the easiest way to access Nursing Home Compare is to go to the search bar at the top right hand corner of the webpage.
In the search bar, type Nursing Home Compare and press enter.
The very first link is the one you want called Find and Compare Nursing Homes/Nursing Home Compare and select it.
You will see the page and it will ask you to find a nursing home. You want to enter the ZIP code or city and state to narrow down the search to the geographical area you or your loved one desire to be placed. If you have a preference on a facility, you want to compare or find out more information on, then enter the name. But that is optional.
For the sake of this post I am going to choose a facility in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
My settings are set to list homes within 25 miles of the city but you can change that on the right hand side of your screen. I left the settings as they are I have 81 nursing homes I can sift through.
Notice that the nursing homes are ranked by stars. 5 stars Much Above Average and 1 star is classified as Much Below Average.
I am not going to name the homes for this example, but I selected a facility that ranked it's stars Above Average in their health inspection, Much Above Average in staffing, and Above Average in quality measures.
The general information reads that there are 210 beds and it participates in Medicare and Medicaid (which can be very important for those who are unable to pay out of pocket).
Staffing is also an important component when seeking a care facility. If you select the staffing tab, information will appear detailing how long different staff members spend with a resident per day. RNs at this facility, spend over 2 hours per resident per day and CNAs spend just under 2 hours per resident per day.
When the penalties tab selected, it is stated that there have been no federal fines or federal payment denials in the past 3 years. That is a very good sign!
Now I will choose a facility that does not have favorable marks in recent history.
The facility I selected, has an overall rating of 2 stars which is Below Average.
Health inspections are Below Average, staffing is Below Average, and quality measures is at Average.
This facility has 197 certified beds and participates in Medicare and Medicaid.
There were several deficiencies found including; Mistreatment, Resident Rights, Nutritional, Environmental, etc. If you select each deficiency there will be a little more detail provided.
Under the staffing tab, RNs spend less than 40 minutes per resident a day and the CNAs spend less than 2 hours with each resident a day.
That is just a quick overview. But if you explore each facility that has interested you further, you will find the information you are looking for or the information that is most relevant to you. The deficiencies noted or the staffing levels may not be important because of your individually tailored needs. So do not make a decision based on a couple of stats. Review thoroughly and review several. This site also allows you to choose up to 3 facilities to Compare. Select the facilities that you are interested in by selecting the Add to Compare option. After, go to the top of your screen and select Compare Now. This will allow you to see the selected homes side by side and therefore you can compare and contrast much easier. Choosing a facility is no easy task, whether it be a long term care, care community, respite care, etc. This is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Do your homework and do your research. Arm yourself and your loved ones with the tools that will allow you to seek the care you desire and deserve. Also familiarize yourself with insurance plans. The plan will be different for each policy holder and may or may not cover certain types of care or care facilities. Make sure the elder and the loved ones are also aware of their rights. A care home is like a community with rights and privileges for every resident.