Pete Eisler and Christopher Schnaars, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON (USA Today)–Nearly a third of the nation’s nursing homes are getting lower scores on the government’s five-star quality scale, a reflection of tougher standards for ratings used by nearly 1.5 million consumers to assess care at more than 15,000 facilities.
The new ratings, posted Friday on the government’s Nursing Home Compare website and in USA TODAY, are the result of sweeping changes in the way facilities are evaluated. Among other things, the revamped assessments include measures of facilities’ use of anti-psychotic drugs, which can pose serious risks for older adults, especially those with dementia. They also use more refined metrics to check for adequate staffing, a critical component of good care.
About 61% of all nursing homes got lower quality-of-care scores as a result of the changes, but the declines weren’t dramatic enough in most cases to affect a facility’s overall rating, a USA TODAY analysis shows. About 28% of nursing homes dropped one star in their overall ratings, including more than 1,200 that lost coveted five-star status. About 3% of facilities fell two stars.