Nursing Home Consumers and Providers Get New Tools For Comparison Shopping and Improved Care |

Nursing Home Consumers and Providers Get New Tools For Comparison Shopping and Improved Care

Timely and accurate information is an essential part of the decision-making process in the selection of a nursing home. Consumers have a right to reliable information regarding the quality of care provided by long term care facilities.

To that end, consumers and health care providers alike should welcome the unveiling of the nation’s most comprehensive report on the quality of care in nursing homes.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) designated Nov. 12 as the date for the national roll out for the Nursing Home Quality Initiative (NHQI).

To launch the national program, CMS will run full-page newspaper ads in the major metropolitan areas in each state. The ads will provide a snapshot of quality information that can be found on the CMS Nursing Home Compare Web site and are based on eight conditions, or measures, for California’s more than 150,000 elderly and disabled who live in long term care facilities.

Not every nursing facility will be in the ad; just the 50 largest (by number of beds) in a given region and only three of the eight different measures will be published. The three quality indicators published will include:

n Percentage of residents with pressure ulcers

n Percentage of residents with a decline in activities of daily living (ADLs)

n Percentage of chronic care residents with pain

Reports on all facilities and all eight quality measures, will be posted on CMS’ Web site at in the Nursing Home Compare section.

The purpose of the program is twofold: improving the quality of care outcomes in nursing facilities, and providing information to consumers. An important and unique component of the NHQI program is its quality improvement element. CMS has committed the resources to work with at least 10 percent of the nation’s nursing homes over a three-year period to identify ways to reach specific quality improvement goals. Nursing homes will work together sharing useful information on ways to improve patient care outcomes. The result will be a win-win for consumers and the provider community.

The national introduction follows a six-month, government-run pilot project of reporting care outcomes at nursing facilities in six states — Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Maryland, Rhode Island and Washington. The California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF) and its national organization, the American Health Care Association (AHCA), are active supporters of this new initiative. CAHF is the state’s largest membership organization of long-term care providers with more than 1,200 member facilities.

Clearly, this is an initiative worthy of public support.

James H. Gomez is president and CEO of California Association of Health Facilities. He may be reached at (916) 441-6500, ext. 201.

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