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Understanding the 2014 U.S. News & World Report Nursing Home Rankings

Today marks the release of the annual “Best Nursing Homes” Rankings. The 2014 list marks the sixth annual calculation of nursing home quality. The information used to craft these rankings are pulled directly from the federal database known as Nursing Home Compare, using survey results compiled by the U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The Best & Worst Nursing Homes in Illinois
One helpful feature of the U.S. News list is that it offers a very user-friendly search function. You can browse facilities and their ranking by state, zip code, or even general metropolitan areas.

For example, there are nearly 400 individual homes included in the rating as part of the Chicago metro area. Within that group, you can search for the best homes by listing only those that receive a 5 star overall rating. According to the database there are 85 homes that meet this mark. That list can be narrowed down even further based on various criteria. For example, only 66 of those 85 top ranked homes accept Medicaid.

For local residents it may be most helpful to take advantage of the tool’s zip code feature. You can put in your specific zip code and then view facilities, rating, and full reports based on the home’s proximity to you. Considering the importance of frequent visits and maintaining close contact with loved ones in long-term care facilities, this is an important way to search for the ideal home for you or your loved one.

On the other end of the spectrum, the U.S. News ranking website also allows you to pinpoint the worst performing homes to avoid. For example, there are 46 homes that receive only a 1 star ranking. Perhaps not surprisingly, all but one of those homes accept Medicaid patients. Unfortunately, this means that families of more limited means, who are not able to pay for private care out of pocket are often (though not always) forced into the lower quality facilities.

It is important to remember, however, that finances are no excuse for facilities providing poor care that causes residents harm. State and federal laws are in place that mandate certain treatment for all nursing home residents. Families can pursue legal accountability when those standards are not met.

The Key Role of Nursing Home Staffing
These rankings are based on a variety of factors, from injury rates to facility deficiencies. One of the most critical components in this list–and on all nursing home care overall–is that of staffing levels. Many examples of poor care at these homes, like allowing falls, making medication errors, and failing to prevent resident-on-resident violence, is rooted in a lack of caregivers.

The U.S. News site includes the specific rating (one out of five stars) for each facility with regard to staffing. Residents considering their options should pay particular attention to facilities that score poorly on this indicator, even if the home does well on other factors. Staffing is such a critical component to care that you should avoid all homes that score lower on the staffing score.

For help with injuries and accidents at a nursing home in Chicago or throughout Illinois, feel free to contact our legal team today. We also work with families after a loved one has been hurt at other locations, like an assisted living facility.