I recently came across a resource for family and friends faced with having to find a nursing home for a loved one. The Informed Patient Institute (IPI) is a non-profit organization that has identified and evaluated all of the nursing home report cards in the country. IPI doesn't rate individual nursing homes, but they'll tell you who does.
What is a nursing home report card? They are online reports that provide comparative information on how well nursing homes do on a range of topics such as state inspections, quality of care, complaints, staffing and in some states—resident or family satisfaction and charges. The report cards are sponsored by state governments, the federal government or non-profit or commercial organizations.
IPI has developed a rating system that tells you which report cards are better than others, saving you time and effort as you research your options. They grade the report cards on a scale of A to F and also tell you what is good about each site and what could be improved. Over 60 national and state sites have recently been reviewed.
States vary in how many resources are available, though the federal government's Nursing Home Compare (rated a “B” by IPI) is available nationwide. In California, for example, residents can also access CalQualityCare.org (http://www.calqualitycare.org/) an IPI top-rated site that offers a wide range of information about nursing homes in a consumer-friendly fashion. The California site also tells you which homes are superior and which homes are poor.
In some states, visitors to the site can also find a “Tip Sheet” that outlines what to do if you have a concern about quality in a nursing home. In plain language, the Tip Sheet walks you through the steps to take, from talking to the nursing home staff about your concern, to going to the local Long Term Care Ombudsman, to filing a complaint with the state or other oversight bodies. Tip Sheets are also available about concerns with hospitals and doctors. They are currently available in California, Maine, New York, and Pennsylvania and IPI is working on developing them in other states before the end of the year.
Finally, the site also includes links and short descriptions of a range of national and local organizations that provide consumer information about quality and patient safety in a variety of health care settings— including nursing homes.
The Informed Patient Institute is a Maryland-based non-profit organization that provides credible online information about health care quality and patient safety for consumers. For more information and to see their nursing home report card ratings, visit: www.informedpatientinstitute.org.