Rating system shows some nursing homes are getting better

July 21, 2013 

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ALGIMANTE STASIUNIENE — Getty Images/iStockphoto

Their “customers” are among the most dependent and even helpless. Those nursing homes that provide not just competent medical oversight but deliver services with compassion and consideration are appreciated by grateful family members whose loved ones are in their care. So it’s especially good news when the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report an improvement in quality at North Carolina’s homes.

A survey by the centers was based on staff levels of nurses, health inspections and the medical conditions of patients. The data collected are used in determining the number of stars a home receives under the federal rating system. The top rating is five stars. Just over 16 percent of North Carolina homes (there are 420 in all) got that rating, but that’s an improvement over 11.4 percent in 2009.

It’s not good enough, but the rating system is an encouragement to homes to do better. The fact that a rating system exists offers families more information when they’re looking for a facility and another bit of pressure on home operators to improve standards. The best check remains, one expert said, the eyes and ears of family members, who need to be their own inspectors when searching for a place to care for those they love.

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