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4 Free Ways to Background Check a Nursing Home for Quality

APFM Admin
By APFM AdminJanuary 28, 2016

Placing a senior loved one in a nursing home is usually a difficult decision for a family to make. You want the right place for your loved one — somewhere they are comfortable and well-cared for all of the time.

When you take tours of nursing homes, you’ll spend a great deal of time learning about their cafeteria, movie room and social activities, but you’ll receive little information about staffing ratios, the frequency of doctor visits, employee turnover rates, the number of substantiated reported incidents per patient, and other factors that speak to the actual care provided. Fortunately, however, you can learn some important facts about a nursing home through a do-it-yourself background check.

Ways to Background Check a Nursing Home for Quality

Background checks can better ensure that you understand the truth behind a nursing home and how they are graded by families, patients and state agencies that oversee nursing home quality care.


Learn more from these four websites about how to background check a nursing home for quality:

1. ProPublica Nursing Homes Inspect Tool

This non-profit has partnered with state agencies to create the definitive guide of nursing home inspections on the web. This is the ultimate guide to understand how state inspections work and what families can expect when researching nursing home facilities in their area. Your first stop for nursing home research should be the ProPublica Nursing Homes Inspect Tool, to see how the nursing home scores compares on a national scale. If there’s an issue with the nursing home, the ProPublica tool also shows you the severity of the citing, how much the facility was fined and the current state of the facility according to the most recent inspection.

2. NursingHomes.com

Nursinghomes.com is a nursing home referral service that takes the guess work out of choosing the right facility. Connect with a local advisor who can help evaluate your situation and refer you to the nursing homes in your area that best fit your needs. Their on-call advisors have details on inspection violations, location, staff turnover and specialized services. After the free consultation, you tour the facilities and make your own decision.

3. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services

This site, managed by the US government, details Medicaid and Medicare-certified facilities and how they rank for quality control and caretaking. Links at the bottom of the page show PDFs of recent reports for enforcement programs after a nursing home is cited for a violation. There’s also a link to the Nursing Home Quality Initiative, which gives families a checklist of things to look for when searching for a nursing home.

4. LongTermScoreCard

An extension of AARP’s caregiving literature, LongTermScoreCard has rankings for all long term care facilities in the U.S. Not only does this track the performance of individual nursing homes, it also tracks the progress states make when they cite a facility and enforce laws for quality elder care. Readers can also check out past annual reports for nursing homes. Once your loved one is at a nursing home, this free service is the fastest, easiest way to stay up to date on any new issues or citations the nursing home is facing.

The process of selecting a nursing home for a loved one is a difficult one, because it involves balancing many factors such as distance to family, preferred physician access, quality of care, as well as social and community considerations. Making that decision even more difficult is the fact that in many cases it is not the resident themselves, but rather a family member making it on their loved one’s behalf. Compounding the difficulty yet further is the fact that the decision-maker often lacks objective third-party assessments of a facilities quality.  Thankfully, by using the four resources listed above, a loved one can gain a better understanding of the objective quality of care in a nursing home facility, and then use that information as part of their decision-making process.

About the Author

Sarah Blanchard is the marketing manager for Winburn Bequette, a nursing home abuse law firm representing clients in Arkansas and Missouri. Follow her on Google+.

How did you find a nursing home? What questions do you have about background checking a nursing home for quality? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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