WARNING ICON ADDED TO MEDICARE/MEDICAID “NURSING HOME COMPARE” WEBSITE

by Bard L. Shober, Esq.

Searching for an appropriate nursing home for your loved one just got a little easier.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced last month that they will display a warning icon for nursing homes with abuse citations on their consumer “Nursing Home Compare” web page.

Nursing homes that have received a citation for abuse will be identified with an icon of an open palm surrounded by a red circle.  Officials will update the icons monthly along with the facilities overall inspection results.

This marks an improvement over the old system that required consumers using the web page to await quarterly updates.  In addition, consumers will know instantly if the nursing home has had a recent citation for abuse.  Also available at the “Nursing Home Compare” web page will be the results of the CMS five star system that rates each nursing home on a variety of categories including staffing and quality measures.

Unfortunately, the new icon will only be present until the next inspection if the nursing home remedies the issues that caused the abuse citation; meaning the new system does not provided an historical account of abuse findings.  To date, nearly 5% of the nation’s more than 15,000 nursing homes have received the icon.

An informed consumer makes the best decisions.  This improvement at the CMS website helps us all be better consumers for our families and friends that need long-term nursing care.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR LONG-TERM CARE OPTIONS

If you think “nursing home” as soon as you hear long-term facility, that’s not surprising. However long-term care covers a range of options.  Long-term care is provided at home, in the community, or in a variety of types of facilities.  The options for long-term care span a continuum of care, and your choices may change as a parent or loved one loses mobility or chronic conditions gradually worsen.

Long-term care decisions don’t always involve a sudden crisis, and when you can, it is important to think about long-term care before a crisis occurs.

In many cases, long-term care starts at Home with family members, friends, volunteers, and often times paid home health-care aides providing the necessary care so that your loved one can remain in his or her home.  Short-term, skilled home health care is covered by Medicare; but, if Medicare is paying, it is just a short-term solution.

In addition, most areas have community services such as adult daycare, meal programs, senior centers and transportation that can be helpful as your parent remains at home. Adult daycare for example can provide a variety of health, social, and related support services in a protective setting during the day.

Independent or Retirement Living is best suited for retirees with relatively minor needs. These self-contained communities, sometimes situated in high rise complexes,  are generally light on care but offer many planned outing and activities.  Some include wellness centers on site.  The price can vary widely.

Assisted Living Facilities offer services such as medication management and limited personal care in a supervised setting.  Like independent/retirement living options, there is a real focus on activities. Also available at many assisted living facilities are personal care, housekeeping and prepared meals, often at additional cost.  The care in Assisted living facilities spans a continuum itself, and in many facilities additional care services can be provided as the need arises.

Nursing Homes provide medical and personal services beyond that available at assisted living facilities, with 24-hour supervision, assistance with activities of daily living and three daily meals usually standard.  Skilled-nursing is on-site to meet medical needs.  There is a large range of services available at different nursing homes, and it is important to match your needs with your nursing home choice.

By checking at Medicare.gov, you can learn more about each option, and newer options being offered, as well as Medicare’s coverage for each. LongTermCare.gov also has information and resources that can help with the difficult decisions involved in long-term care.

Bard L. Shober, Esq. is an attorney with Cooper Levenson’s Personal Injury Practice Group in Atlantic City, N.J. He concentrates primarily on medical malpractice and personal injury matters.