If you wanted to find out if a nursing home in Chicago has been cited for violating rules that have led to one or more residents being abused, neglected, or exploited, all you would need to do is visit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) website. The CMS currently provides the public with access to its nursing home compare tool that lets you view health inspection reports. These reports allow you to see what violations have been recorded for nursing homes in a particular city as well as the fine that was imposed for the listed violation(s).
While these reports can be rather beneficial to someone who is in the process of relocating their loved one to live in a nursing home in Chicago, they have proven to be difficult to access and even understand. For instance, while many of the reports list the type of violation a home was cited for along with the corresponding codes, they do not provide any type of description that specifies what exactly the home did wrong or failed to do.
CMS Announces it Will be Making it Easier for Consumers to Access Health Inspection Reports for Nursing Homes
On October 7, 2019, the CMS said that “it will be adding an icon next to nursing homes with reported violations starting on October 23, 2019” [Source: Modern Healthcare]. The source went on to explain that “the icon will warn consumers about the harmful abuse of a resident within the past year and potentially harmful abuse of a resident during the last two years.” The CMS also stated that it would be updating its data monthly and that the information “will supplement the nursing home five-star rating [system].”
If you aren’t aware of what the CMS’s five-star rating system is, below we have taken the time to briefly explain its purpose.
What is the purpose of the CMS’s Five-Star Rating System for Nursing Homes?
The CMS “created the Five-Star Quality Rating System to help consumers, their families, and caregivers compare nursing homes more easily and to help identify areas about which you may want to ask questions.” Some of the areas you likely will have questions about regarding a nursing home include:
- Health Inspections: The health inspections rating currently provides individuals with the three most recent health inspections that were conducted at a home as well as the investigations that were completed after a complaint was filed. This information is obtained by an investigator who visits the nursing home facility and follows a specific process “to determine the extent to which a nursing home has met Medicaid and Medicare’s minimum quality requirements.”
- Staffing: When you view a nursing home using the CMS’s five-star rating system, you will also find that staffing is a category that is scored. The staffing rating provides information regarding “the number of hours of care provided on average to each resident each day by nursing staff.” When scoring a home on staffing, the “rating considers differences in the levels of residents’ care need in each nursing home.” Therefore, a home that has residents that require more attention due to their needs, illnesses, and conditions would need more staff on duty as opposed to a facility that houses residents who don’t need quite as much attention/help.
- Quality Measures (QMs): This provides individuals with “information on 15 different physical and clinical measures for nursing home residents. The QMs offer information about how well nursing homes are caring for their residents’ physical and clinical needs.”
The Nursing Home Compare tool rates a home on all the areas listed above using a five-star rating system with five stars meaning that the home is considered to be above average and one star meaning that the home is much below average. Aside from providing you with a rating for health inspections, staffing, and quality measures, each home is also given an overall five-star rating.
Now, Modern Healthcare does say that the change the agency is implementing will “focus on strengthening oversight, boosting enforcement, fostering transparency, developing better quality measures and streamlining reporting requirements.” The new icon is also supposed to help “increase transparency” so that consumers can easily identify when a home is in violation of one or more rules or regulations which puts the health and/or safety of a resident(s) at risk. While the CMS is working toward helping the public become more aware of when a nursing home isn’t meeting its minimum quality requirements, which, in turn, could help a family choose a facility for their loved one, there are other ways to avoid moving your aging relative into a nursing home that provides poor quality care.
If you are currently in the process of moving your family member into a nursing home, the Chicago, IL nursing home abuse attorneys at Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. are more than happy to assist you with this transition. In the event you are looking for a new home because your loved one was neglected or abused in another facility in IL, our attorneys are available to explain the forms of legal recourse you can take.
You can contact Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. at:
221 North La Salle Drive, Suite 1100
Chicago, IL 60601