Aging Options

Don't trust Medicare's Nursing Home star ratings

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If you must choose a nursing home for care for either yourself or someone you love, do your research.  But a recent story in the New York Times suggests your research needs to go way beyond trusting Medicare’s star ratings.  That’s because much of Medicare’s vaunted star rating system relies on self-reporting and that reporting is often less than truthful.  Only one of the three ratings is based on independent reviews.  The result is that if you do a little digging on nursing homes with five star rating, you’ll likely find many don’t rate their ranking.   According to the New York Times, “Of more than 50 nursing homes on a federal watch list for quality, nearly two-thirds hold four- or five-star ratings for their staff levels and quality statistics.”  If you leave your research just to the five star system, look to the one independently reported piece.  “More than 95 percent of the homes on the watch list received one or two stars for the health inspection…”  Better yet, consider hiring a geriatric care manager to help you find a nursing home that’s more appropriate or plan your future so that you can avoid them all together.  For more information on how to do that, attend a free LifePlanning seminar.

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