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Measuring the Quality of a Nursing Home in Chicago

A nurse is helping a senior walking in nursing home

Before deciding on a nursing home, it is important for families to do their own research about the quality of the facility. Fortunately, there is extensive data available that can inform about the quality of care in a nursing home.

Inspection Reports Tell a Story

Federal law requires that each nursing home undergo an annual inspection that looks for deficiencies in care. There are detailed regulations that each facility must closely follow. Otherwise, they will be cited for deficiencies. If the violations are serious enough, the nursing home could be fined and even suspended from the Medicaid program.

The Centers for Medicare Services will assign a star rating to each nursing home based on the results of the inspections. These ratings range from one star to five, with one-star being the lowest score. Facilities that have repeated violations will have low ratings. These are the ones that should be avoided at all costs.

All of this is made publicly available. Families can find it on the CMS website. These reports are very detailed, and citations in the report are explained in detail. While a nursing home may have minor violations, these reports make it obvious which facilities are not getting the job done. Families can even see how much staffing is on hand at each nursing home and make comparisons between them.

Nursing homes can tell families anything when they are trying to get their business. The proof is in the numbers. These are published by objective government agencies that send highly-trained staff into the facility to take detailed looks at everyday care in the nursing home.

What Families Should Look For

When families are speaking to prospective nursing homes, they should ask about:

  • The level of staffing at the nursing home
  • The type of activities for their loved one
  • Safety measures that the nursing home takes
  • How the facility ensures timely care for the residents

All answers that families receive should be compared against the available nursing home inspection reports. If these reveal a different story that shows a history of poor care, families should look elsewhere. Oftentimes, people only learn the hard way how bad the care is at a particular home when they are speaking with a nursing home abuse lawyer when their loved one has been hurt.

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