A new survey of nursing homes by Consumer Reports finds that poor care is still common, but that not-for-profit nursing homes tend to provide better care than for-profit facilities. Additionally, independently run nursing homes provide better care than nursing homes run by corporations.
With a grant from the Commonwealth Fund, Consumer Reports analyzed state inspection reports for some 16,000 nursing homes across the United States. It also looked at staffing levels and quality indicators, such as the number of residents with bed sores. Consumer Reports used the data to list the facilities in each state that rank in the best or worst 10 percent according to their quality indicators.
Now in its fifth year, the survey found that nursing home conditions have not improved significantly. Consumer Reports offered several recommendations for finding good care, including the following:
- Get a list of local nursing homes and the name of the local ombudsman who investigates nursing homes from your local agency on aging. Check with the local ombudsman.
- Check the ownership. As the survey found, not-for-profit and independently owned nursing homes tended to have better care.
- Visit the homes repeatedly, including a surprise visit. If you visit between 9:30 and 10:00 am and find that residents are still in bed, it may be a sign that there is not enough staff to get residents out of bed. Similarly, it is not a good sign if you visit in the evening and three-quarters of the residents are eating in their rooms.
- Don't rely on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Nursing Home Compare site Web site. According to Consumer Reports, the information on the site is incomplete and possibly misleading.
For the full Consumer Reports' nursing home guide, click here.
For more advice on choosing a nursing home, click here.