LACONIA — The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that oversees the two programs pursued in partnership with the states, has introduced a new system of rating nursing homes designed to enable consumers, families and caregivers to make comparisons when choosing a long-term care facility.
The new scoring system represents a raising of the bar that left 61 percent of the U.S. 15,000 nursing homes with lower ratings and only 34, 2.3 percent, with higher ratings than before. The rating apply only to those nursing homes caring for residents enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid.
CMS has rated 76 nursing homes in New Hampshire, including seven county nursing homes. The Belknap County Nursing home was awarded an overall score of four stars as well as four stars for health inspection, staffing and quality measures. The nursing homes in Hillsborough and Sullivan counties also rated four stars while those in Coos, Grafton and Merrimack received five stars. The Rockingham County Nursing Home trailed the field with three stars.
The Belknap County Nursing Home fared well in comparison with private facilities in the Lakes Region. Golden View Hralth Care Center was the only private facility in the region to rate five stars. Laconia Center on Bluebrry Lane in Laconia and Mountain Ridge Center in Franklin, both operated by Genesis Healthcare, each received four stars. The Saint Francis Rehabilitation and Nursing Center on Court Street in Laconia rated three stars and the Wolfeboro Bay Center in Wolfeboro just two stars.
The five-star rating system assigns each nursing home between one and five stars, with five stars signifying quality much above average and one star signifying quality much below average. There is an overall rating for each nursing home and separate ratings based on health inspections, staffing levels and quality measures.
The health inspection rating draws on information collected at the nursing homes by trained inspectors during the past three years, with the most findings weighted more heavily than the earlier findings. Inspectors follow a defined process designed to determine the extent to which a nursing home has met the minimum quality requirements set by Medicare and Medicaid. More than 180,000 on-site reviews are used in the scoring process.
The staffing rating applies data indicating the number of hours of care provided to each resident each day by the nursing staff and takes into account differences in the levels of care required by the residents of different facilities.
The quality measures is comprised of 11 different physical and clinical measures that indicate how well nursing homes are caring for their residents. More than 12-million assessments of the conditions in nursing homes are incorporated in the rating.