5-Star Nursing Homes

January 19th, 2009 | Sources: CMS

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently released quality ratings for the 15,800 nursing homes that receive reimbursement from the 2 entitlement programs.

The ratings feature a 5-star scale with a one being poor and a 5 being well above average. They’re based on a combination of staffing information, results from health inspection surveys and a compendium of quality measures. Plans are to update them monthly.

The ratings can be found by clicking on the Nursing Home Compare feature at www.medicare.gov.

“Our goal in developing (the) quality rating system is to provide…a straightforward assessment of nursing home quality, with meaningful distinctions between high and low performing homes,” said CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems in a press release. 

Inspectors survey nursing homes annually to assure compliance with federal and state rules.  Information from the last 3 years worth of surveys was used to develop the ratings. 

The quality measurement system features 10 metrics including the percent of at-risk residents that developed pressure ulcers and the number whose mobility worsened after admission.

Staffing information relies on one metric—the severity-adjusted number of hours of nursing and other staff care, per patient-day.

In the first data release, 12% of the nation’s nursing homes received a 5-star rating, while 22% scored one star.  The remaining facilities were distributed evenly among the other rankings.

Thomas Hamilton, director of the CMS Survey and Certification Group reminded users that the ratings should be used in conjunction with other information sources.

“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 themselves,” he said.


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