The greying of America means more people than ever before will need the assisted living or long-term care provided by the nation's 17,000 nursing homes. Newly released government information is based on data that nursing homes must routinely collect from residents as part of their participation in the federal medicare program.
"The government's collected this data for four or five years. Now we're basically collating it and putting it out hopefully in a useful way for consumers to use to make the right decision about nursing homes," said Tom Scully, Administrator for Medicare & Medicaid.
Scully says consumers can now go to the Medicare web site as to find out about the past performance of every Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing home in the country. The information available includes deficiencies found during annual inspections and complaint investigations.
If you or someone you know needs to make a decision on the choice of a nursing home here are some of the important factors to keep in mind before making that decision.
Look at the residents themselves. Do they seem to be clean, well-groomed and appropriately dressed.
How are the living spaces? Is the temperature comfortable? How about the noise level. Are the common areas well lit and free from unpleasant odors. Is the staff trained and attentive? Do they know the residents by name? Are they warm, polite and friendly? Are the residents personal rooms well-maintained with some storage space and a window? Do residents have access to a personal telephone and TV? Does the facility have adequate safety measures such as clearly marked exits, smoke detectors, sprinklers and handrails?
Government officials are hoping the web site information will make consumers more aware and that will raise the level of quality.
"We gotta start measuring quality, talking about it and slowly improving it," said Scully.
For more information and details on specific nursing homes, you can call Medicare's toll-free number at 1-800-Medicare, or ( click here )to see the web site.