It’s easier to find a good nursing home

Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website now has the long-awaited star ratings. Announced months ago, the site has added six more quality measurements and has added the star features, making it easier to do comparisons when the time comes to pick out a nursing home.[cointent_lockedcontent]

To find the nursing home ratings, go online to and put “nursing home compare” in the search box. Put in your ZIP code, and you can compare up to three at a time.

8-3 Page 4A.inddThe devil is in the details, as always. Look for tiny items like the number of minutes of physical therapy per resident per day, dates of last inspections, residents rights deficiencies, any mistreatment complaints, pharmacy service deficiencies and any penalties and fines in the past three years. Be sure to click and read the actual inspection reports. You might find that cleaning materials and foods were comingled, or that food was left uncovered in the freezer.

What’s concerning is that not all the inspection reports are there. You’ll need to know if a facility has eight fire-code deficiencies, or that the ceiling over the food-prep area has peeling paint, or that insulin wasn’t kept at the correct cold temperature or had expired.

One thing lacking in the ratings is that nowhere will you find resident or family satisfaction. The data is mostly self-reported by the nursing homes themselves and the measures aren’t necessarily comparable between facilities, especially the ratings that don’t include full inspection reports.

While the star rating is a good place to begin, it shouldn’t be the end of your research into a good nursing home. Ask for recommendations from your doctor or people you know.

(c) 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.