Ventura County Health Officials Raise Concerns About CMS Nursing Home Quality Guide
Ventura County health officials said that a nursing home quality guide released last week by CMS represents only a "starting point" for selection of nursing homes and "may not accurately measure their quality," the Los Angeles Times reports (Ritsch, Los Angeles Times, 11/18). The guide provides information on quality of care at the nation's 17,000 nursing homes as part of the CMS Nursing Home Quality Initiative. The guide rates nursing homes based on 10 "quality indicators," such as number of residents with an "unexpected" loss of ability in basic tasks; residents with bed sores; residents with pain; residents in physical restraints; residents with infections; limited-stay residents with delirium; and short-stay residents with an improved ability to walk. The guide also includes information about problems found in annual inspections and data on complaint investigations (California Healthline, 11/12). However, according to Sylvia Taylor, executive director of Long Term Care Services of Ventura County, federal inspections of nursing homes provide only a "snapshot of their care" and may "occur as infrequently as once a year," the Times reports. Taylor said that county residents should contact the office of the local ombudsman to obtain "the latest, up-to-the-minute information" on nursing homes; volunteers in the office visit nursing homes at least one time per week for several hours. In addition, some nursing home operators raised concerns about the use of comparisons in certain categories, such as the number of residents with dementia, to rate quality. "It doesn't mean they're worse than another facility. Facilities accept different kinds of patients," Jerry Wells, operations director for Victoria Care Center and Maywood Healthcare Center, said. County health officials advised families to visit nursing homes before they select a facility. Taylor said, "Just go in and use all your senses to see how you really feel about placing a loved one in this facility" (Los Angeles Times, 11/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.