Throughout Birmingham, Homewood, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills, seniors and their family members rely on nursing home ratings to help them to determine whether a particular nursing home provides quality care. Many seniors need to live in a nursing facility as they age, and choosing the right facility is essential. A nursing home abuse lawyer knows that the federal government provides a Nursing Home Compare website to help make the process of finding a safe and appropriate nursing home easier. Until recently, however, the guidelines for the government's quality scale may not have been very stringent and the ratings were not always accurate.
The government has made sweeping changes in the way that facilities are being evaluated in order to try to correct some of the problems. The new guidelines have only recently been released so it remains to be seen whether the government will do any better this time in providing necessary guidelines for one of the most important decisions of a person's life. However, one thing is already clear: most homes were ranked way too high on the old system.
New Guidelines Lead to Drop in Nursing Home Facility Scores
USA Today reported on the release of the new federal guidelines for rating nursing homes. The guidelines will now take into account things like whether a nursing facility over uses anti-psychotic drugs. These drugs are sometimes used to help control hard-to-manage patients, and are considered a form of chemical restraint. Over use of the anti-psychotics can have a seriously adverse impact on patient health and quality of life, especially for Alzheimer's patients.
The new guidelines also incorporate more refined metrics to determine if the nursing home has adequate staff. This is a critical component of providing high quality care to seniors who may need assistance with many routine tasks.
Under the new guidelines, approximately a third of all nursing home facilities in the nation are now receiving a lower rating on the five-star quality scale. Approximately 61 percent of nursing home facilities also got lower quality-of-care scores because of the new regulations. The majority of the downgrades are not dramatic enough to affect the overall star rating, but they do underscore the tremendous inadequacy of the previous metrics the government was using.
For around 28 percent of the facilities, the new guidelines made a big enough difference that the nursing home lost a full start on the five-star scale. More than 1,200 facilities ended up losing the five-star status they had previously been awarded. Around two percent of facilities actually did much worse and ended up falling by two stars on the quality scale.
The new ratings mark an important shift towards holding nursing home facilities more accountable. As many as 1.4 million people used the government's Nursing Home Compare website last year in order to help determine what nursing homes were acceptable. It is a shame that those millions got information based on lax guidelines that allowed nursing home to slide on important patient safety care issues. Hopefully, going forward, the guidelines will do better at ensuring nursing facilities actually are safe for residents.
Victims of Birmingham, AL nursing home abuse should consult with a personal injury lawyer at Shuttlesworth Law Firm LLC. Call 866-583-1885 today. Serving Birmingham, suburbs of Homewood, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills and surrounding locations.