Last week, the Trump Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) moved to provide more information on the federal agency’s nursing home website, to give caregivers, families and caregivers, a better way to easier determine the safety and quality provided in the nation’s nursing facilities.
Later this month, CMS will – for the first time – display a consumer alert icon next to nursing homes that have been cited for incidents of abuse, neglect or exploitation. By making this information accessible and understandable, CMS is empowering consumers to make the right decisions in selecting a facility for themselves and their loved ones.
“The Trump Administration and CMS are committed to ensuring that nursing home residents are safe from abuse and neglect. Through the “transparency” pillar of our five-part strategy to ensure safety and quality in nursing homes, we are giving residents and families the ability to make informed choices,” said Administrator Seema Verma, in an Oct. 7 statement. (The pillars include: Strengthening Oversight, Enhancing Enforcement, Increasing Transparency, Improving Quality and Putting Patients over Paperwork. This framework is informing all CMS work related to nursing home safety.)
Giving More Information to Make Decisions
According to CMS, the agency’s Nursing Home Compare tool displays an array of information about nursing homes – including whether a facility meets federal standards with respect to health and safety compliance inspections, staffing levels and quality measure performance. Previously, consumers were able to learn about past instances of abuse citations at a nursing home, but finding this information from its health inspection reports available on Nursing Home Compare required multiple steps. Through CMS’s changes to the website site, the agency is minimizing the steps, making it easier than ever for consumers to quickly identify nursing homes with past citations for abuse.
Beginning next week a new alert icon will be added to the Nursing Home Compare website for facilities cited on inspection reports for one or both of the following: 1) abuse that led to harm of a resident within the past year; and 2) abuse that could have potentially led to harm of a resident in each of the last two years. To ensure CMS is providing the latest information, the icon will be updated monthly, at the same time CMS inspection results are updated. This means consumers will not be forced to wait for CMS’s quarterly updates to see the latest -related information – and nursing homes will not be flagged for longer than necessary if their most recent inspections indicate they have remedied the issues that caused the citations for abuse or potential for abuse and no longer meet the criteria for the icon. CMS says that this icon will supplement existing information, including the Nursing Home Five-Star Ratings, Nursing Home helping consumers develop a more complete understanding of a facility’s quality.
CMS says that there are a number of factors that indicate a nursing home’s quality, and the Star Ratings may not capture some nuances. For example, a nursing home cited for an incident of abuse may have adequate staffing numbers and provide excellent dementia or rehabilitative care. Previously, consumers would clearly see this facility’s performance in these areas through the Star Ratings, but abuse complaint allegation information may not have been as clear. Under the CMS new website changes, this facility would have an alert icon displayed, allowing consumers to see both its Star Ratings and the icon, helping them easily weigh the facility’s quality.