Nursing Homes in Need of Nursing

The other day I blogged about the sad state of a local nursing home. Sadly, poor care in nursing homes is not isolated to this one local hospital. An article in the December 18, 2008, issue of the New York Times reports on the latest federal grades for the nation’s nursing homes, and the findings are rather dismal. In fact, nearly a quarter of the nursing homes in the United States, which total some 16,000, received one star, the lowest rating possible in the newly implemented five-star rating system. A mere 12 percent ranked in the top.

The five-star ranking system is designed to be updated on a quarterly basis and is aimed at helping consumers make informed decisions about nursing home selection. The system evaluates nursing homes on a number of criteria, including staffing levels, quality of care assessments, and state inspection grades.

The system has gained a number of critics, including the head of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging was critical of the five-star system. Less impartial parties, such as consumer groups, also have some critical opinions about the system, primarily that it is not detailed or strict enough.