More Higher Quality Massachusetts Nursing Homes Are Located in More Affluent Areas, Says the Associated Press

An Associated Press review of the new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ranking system found that Massachusetts nursing homes located in the state’s more affluent areas tended to receive higher ratings for quality than their counterparts in poorer counties.The ranking system rates some 16,000 nursing homes in the United States for quality of care, staffing levels, and health inspection results.

A number of factors were examined when arriving at each home’s rating, including how many patients acquired bedsores during their first three months at a nursing home, the number of injuries sustained in fall accidents, and the number of hours of care each patient received on a daily basis. Nursing homes that provided the best level of care and services received a five star rating, while homes considered to provide well below average care received one star.

17% of the 433 Massachusetts nursing homes that were assessed received 5 stars, while 14% of the state’s nursing homes received 1 star. A closer examination of the data reveals that nursing homes located in poorer parts of the state tended to receive less stars:

• Almost 60% of Massachusetts nursing homes in Middlesex County, considered one of the state’s most affluent areas, received 5 star ratings.

• In Massachusetts’s poorest area, Hampden County, almost 6 out of every 10 US nursing homes received 1 or 2 stars.

• Plymouth County, also a wealthy Massachusetts area, was number 3 among counties with the highest number of 4 or 5 star nursing homes.

• Among the exceptions was Suffolk County, which includes the city of Boston. Massachusetts’s third poorest county had the highest percentage of 5 star nursing homes and the lowest percentage of 1 star ones.

The Medicare and Medicaid ranking system is designed to give prospective residents and their families another way of assessing the quality of care provided at each home. While researching and visiting a nursing home are great ways to make sure that you are choosing to admit your loved one into a long-term care facility where they will receive the best care possible, nursing home abuse and neglect incidents do occur.

Nursing home quality varies by region in Mass.,, January 1, 2009
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