Why reinvent the wheel? Trying to find more information about your nursing home? This is an excellent ‘how to’ by Professor Hanns Peiper from the University of Evansville. Below is an except from Professor Peiper’s article in the Evansville Courrier & Press.
Following is a set of steps that will get you helpful information.
Step 1: Go to the Medicare home page by typing the address http://www.medicare.gov into the line at the top of your screen.
When the Medicare home page comes up on your computer, scroll to the bottom half of your screen where you will find a list of options offered by Medicare. One of these, “Compare Nursing Homes in Your Area,” is on the right side of this list. Click your mouse on that line.
Step 2: After you complete the first step you will find yourself with a screen that asks how you want to search for your nursing home. If you know the name of the nursing home you are considering, click your cursor on “Name” at the right side of the page. However, you also have several other options.
I find the ZIP code option, which allows you to look up nursing homes anywhere in the United States, most useful. After you click on “ZIP Code” you will be asked to enter the ZIP code you want.
You are also asked to specify a distance you are willing to go from the center of your ZIP code area. I suggest you start with 10 miles. If you live in a rural area, you may need to increase that distance to get a satisfactory list.
Click “Next Step” to continue.
Step 3: You are now looking at a list of nursing homes within your distance preference, along with information about each home. A very important bit of information is whether or not the home is Medicare certified, Medicaid certified or both.
If you think the resident will eventually run out of money and need Medicaid support, the home must be Medicaid certified.
Next focus on the actual location of the homes. Nearness of friends and relatives to the nursing home, or at least having the home on the regular travel path, will be important in the future.
When you have decided on some homes that you want to look at in more detail, check the boxes in front of their names and then click “Next Step.”
Step 4: The screen that you are now looking at lists some information about the homes, but go ahead and click on “View all information about this nursing home” for each home. This takes you to a screen that provides more detailed information.
While all of the information provided can be useful, the two areas of “Nursing Home Staffing” and “Health Inspection” are particularly useful. Go ahead and click on “Nursing Home Staffing.”
Staffing adequacy is a key factor.
Generally, the higher the number of minutes per resident, the better. This is especially true for the certified nursing assistants (CNAs), who provide most of the hands-on care.
The comparisons with the state and national averages are also useful. Next check out “Health Inspection” to find out how the home fared at its last state inspection. Especially useful is the “Total Number of Health Deficiencies for this Nursing Home” and the comparison with state and national averages.
Ideally, the number of deficiencies will be zero.
Next click on “View Previous Inspection Results” to get an idea of the three-year performance of the nursing home.
Combine all this information about distance, certification, number of health deficiencies, and staffing levels, and then make a short list of nursing homes that look most promising.
Now it is time to actually visit them.
At the very bottom of the last screen you were on, you will find the line “Nursing Home Checklist.” Print this excellent list and take it with you.