Selecting a Nursing Home for Your Loved Ones

by: Thomas D. Begley, Jr.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently completed a rating of nearly 16,000 nursing homes throughout the United States.  This was done under the CMS Nursing Home Compare System.  Based on these ratings, the Scripps Howard news service did a statistical analysis.  Many of the findings were interesting.  They included:


Generally, nursing facilities run by non-profits are better than institutions run by for-profit corporations.  This validates observations made by this office over a long period of time.


Nursing homes with higher nursing staff-per-patient ratios deliver better care than those with lower staff-per-patient ratios.  This should come as no surprise to anyone.  The Scripps Howard analysis showed that nursing facilities run by non-profits generally have higher nursing staff-per-patient ratios.


The smaller the facility, the better the care.  Homes with more than 100 beds got lower scores in all categories, including the health of residents and the levels of nursing care.  Again, this makes common sense.  Surprisingly, the highest ratings for nursing home were in the northeast part of the country and the lowest were in the southern states.  We tend to think of people in the northeast as being less caring and always in a hurry.  Southerns tend to operate at a slower pace and tend to be warmer personalities.  This generalization does not seem to carry over into nursing facilities.


Only 12% to 13% of nursing homes in the United States have received the top CMS rating.  Slightly more than 20% have regularly been given the lowest ratings.  Government ratings are done on a 1 to 5 star scale.  Families looking for information on placing loved ones in a facility should start by looking at the CMS ratings online.[1]

[1] http://www.medicare.gov/NHCompare