I guess the stars don’t just shine in Tinseltown anymore. As of January 1, California nursing homes are required to post their Five-Star Quality Rating online and in their buildings in adherence to a 2009 state law mandating this public information access. To help select a nursing home, the consumer can check how each skilled nursing facility scored in CMS’ Five-Star Quality Rating System.
To further assist the public, postings carry an explanation of the star rating system (1 star = much below average; 5 stars = much above average) and information on accessing a facility’s state licensing information from the California Department of Health’s Web site.
Tom Kisken of the Ventura County Star reports varied reactions to the newly implemented mandate. Kisken reports that Sylvia Taylor Stein, executive director of the Long Term Care Services of Ventura County Ombudsman Program, thinks that “it’s a place to start,” but adds that nothing is more informative than a personal visit to a facility. On the other hand, a one-star rating is not always reflective of a nursing home’s quality of care because the Five-Star system doesn’t allow for the type of resident population that nursing homes serve; e.g., residents with dementia, a facility administrator argued in the report.
Los Angeles Times’ reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske interviewed Edward Mortimer, technical director of the survey and certification group in the Baltimore office of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, who indicated that the ratings may be frozen or temporarily eliminated until the system is revised in the fall.
All in all, consumer education is an important and valuable tool for the individual and for the facility to act upon. Encouraging personal visitations, tours, and staff conferencing is the key for promoting and educating the public. Whether your facility sports one star or glows with the radiance of five, continue to address problems, praise your accomplishments, and stay focused on providing the best of care to your residents.