Posted by: Laurence Harmon on 5/20/2009 | 0 Comments

The Center uses a star rating system, from a low of one star to a high of five. The ratings, based on health inspection surveys, staffing data and quality of care measures, are available at The website provides easy access to essential information for anyone evaluating nursing homes in a particular geographic area. 

According to the CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems, “Our goal in developing this unprecedented quality rating system is to provide families a straightforward assessment of nursing home quality, with meaningful distinctions between high and low performing homes.  The new information will also help consumers and families identify important questions to ask nursing homes and challenge nursing homes to improve their quality of care.”

The rating system is based on a nursing home's performance in the following critical areas:

Health inspection surveys.   State and federal surveyors perform annual assessments of each facility's healthcare services and measure its compliance with local and federal rules. The survey is intended to protect residents' health and safety. 

 Quality measures.  This category uses 10 key measures to examine the quality of a facility, including percentages of residents who have pressure ulcers (i.e., bedsores) after their first 90 days in the facility; the numbers of residents whose mobility worsened after admissions; and the receipt of proper medical care by the population. 

 Staffing information.  This category calculates the number of hours of nursing and other staff care per patient per day, adjusted to account for the particular needs of residents (e.g., illness levels, services required.) This measurement is considered to be particularly important, because the more professional attention is paid to nursing home residents, the more likely it is that the resident is receiving appropriate care.

The product of the system is a quality rating for a nursing home's performance according to these measures, coupled with a composite score. A one-star rating means that the facility is "much below average," while two stars represent "below average" performance. Three stars? "Average." Four stars means "above average," and five, the highest rating, means "much above average." 
 “Choosing a nursing home or community-based care is one of the most difficult and sometimes confusing decisions families have to make,” noted Thomas Hamilton, director of the CMS group that designed the new system.  “The new website improvements also include links to information for community-based alternatives to nursing homes that may be of great interest to families. Regardless of the type of support a family chooses,” he said, “It is vital that families and caregivers use the Web site as just one of many important sources of information they should consult. Families should also consult with their physician, talk to the state’s nursing home ombudsman or the state’s survey and certification office and, most importantly, visit the nursing home or community-based program for themselves.”
The first round of ratings found about 12 percent of the nation's nursing homes deserved the five-star rating, while a disturbing 22 percent received only one star. Ratings for the other approximately two-thirds of the nursing homes were distributed fairly evenly among the two, three and four star rankings.
U. S. News rolled up the data to produce listings of the best ( and worst ( nursing homes, concluding that the 10 states that have the lowest percentage of top-rated homes are Louisiana, which has only nine five-star homes, slightly more than three percent of the 284 facilities in that state. Georgia, with 6.2 percent of its facilities rated tops, was second, followed by Oklahoma (7.1 percent); Tennessee (7.3 percent); West Virginia (7.7 percent); Kentucky (8.7 percent); Indiana (8.9 percent); Missouri (9.1 percent); Texas (9.3 percent); and Ohio and Utah, tied for tenth place, with 9.9 percent of five-star rated facilities.
About the author: Laurence Harmon is a principal of For more information regarding nursing homes, assisted living, or senior apartments, visit Great Places

Posted by: Laurence Harmon on 5/17/2009 | 0 Comments delivers answers straight to the computer screens of the Baby Boom generation, now essential participants in the housing and care decisions facing their aging parents offers a senior housing and care directory loaded with photos, lists of services and amenities and video interviews with residents and customers. It's also got a Life Transitions Toolkit packed with field manuals of advice and counsel especially for Boomers, and a rapid-fire daily Blog that's jammed with senior news, medical breakthroughs and humorous tidbits. 
Visit often: it's the single best resource for Baby Boomers and their parents about the world of senior housing alternatives and senior lifestyles.
Posted by: Laurence Harmon on 5/17/2009 | 0 Comments

And what, precisely, you may ask, is that?  It's Twine's "Coolest Gadget of the Week," the SmartFaucet, a gizmo that uses face recognition to remember the precise temperature and pressure you prefer for your bath or shower.  The Great Places blogmaster thinks that's cool, but an unlikely amenity for most of us.  It's possible, unfortunately, to use the SmartFaucet to check out your e-mails or upcoming calendar (in the shower!), which the Great Places blogmaster considers a particularly annoying additional feature.

And what does the Great Places blogmaster think of Twine?  It's kitschier than Google--after all, it's brand new and Google's a doddering 11 years old--but it's MUCH slower and dumber.  Projected life expectancy?  30 days, tops.




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