Over one-third of nursing homes in the country saw their star rating drop last year after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid retooled their star-based rating system, which judges nursing homes based on the quality of care provided to their patients. A nursing home receives a rating between one and five stars, with five stars representing the highest quality of care. While the majority of nursing home ratings changed for the worse, the retooled metrics used by the nursing home regulator did increase the ratings of approximately 15 percent of nursing homes in the country, according to Skilled Nursing News.
According to the industry watchdog, the new rating metric emphasizes whether a sufficient number of nurses are staffed at the nursing home. According to multiple studies and elder care advocates, the number of nurses is the strongest predictor of the quality of care provided to nursing home residents. The federal agency’s revision came after a report last summer by The New York Times showed that many nursing homes suffered from a nursing shortage and often inaccurately reported their staffing to government regulators. In addition to changing its rating system, CMS also said it would conduct more unannounced inspections on weekends when staffing shortages were reportedly more common.
When announcing the new metrics back in March, CMS also reduced the threshold for receive a single star on the “staffing” metric. Any nursing home that goes four or more days in a three-month period without a registered nurse on staff will receive a single star rating. The previous threshold for a rock-bottom rating was seven days.
While none of the nursing homes necessarily “got worse” the new rating system should provide a more accurate indicator of a nursing home’s quality. A more accurate judge of a nursing home’s quality will be invaluable to prospective nursing home residents, according to Skilled Nursing News. Further, the increased focus on staffing will pressure nursing homes to prioritize nursing staff and, consequently, improve care for their residents.
Short staffing leads to an overall lack of appropriate care that can often result in falls and bedsores. Contact us our nursing home attorneys to discuss your potential case.