New alert icon can ID nursing homes with history of problems
Choosing a nursing home for a loved one often is a difficult and stressful process. Is the facility safe? Have there been incidents of abuse, neglect or exploitation? These are some of the questions that may race through your mind.
In the past, families may have felt like they have to employ their detective skills to uncover any history of problems. In October, the government provided a tool that will help families get a better picture of how good a nursing home is – or isn’t.
The Trump Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the Nursing Home Compare website will include a consumer alert icon displayed next to the names of nursing homes cited for incidents of abuse, neglect or exploitation.
Nursing Home Compare website offers transparency
The alert icon is a useful enhancement for the already helpful Nursing Home Compare website, which includes detailed information about all nursing homes that are Medicare- or Medicaid-certified. The website provides information as to whether a facility meets federal health and safety compliance standards, staffing levels and other measurements for quality.
According to a press release from the CMS, nursing homes will receive the alert icon if they have received citations for one or both of the following:
- Abuse causing harm to a resident over the past year
- Abuse that potentially could have harmed a resident in each of the last two years
Each month, the CMS will update the icon, which means consumers will have the latest information about a facility. The icon will also be removed if the nursing home has addressed the abuse or potential abuse.
While the alert icon serves as a helpful tool, it should not be the only measure of whether a nursing home is right for your loved one.
Steps to take before choosing a nursing home
Our attorneys recommend the following if you are choosing a facility:
- Do your research: The alert icon on the CMS website can help you cross certain facilities off the list. You also will want to read reviews. Talk to your friends, relatives, social workers, and others in the community to get suggestions.
- Call different nursing homes: Ask questions about staffing levels and how many people live at the facility.
- Visit the nursing home: Arrange for a meeting with the director or other administrators. When you visit, ask questions. Pay attention to details. Are there foul odors? Does the facility look clean?
We have more on our website on choosing the right nursing home.
What to do if your loved one has been abused
Abuse, neglect, and exploitation can happen at any nursing home, even ones that have not been cited for violations. Negligent nursing homes often cover up any signs of abuse and neglect. If you confront them, they may deny any wrongdoing or argue that whatever happened to your loved one was normal or does not qualify as abuse or neglect.
That’s why it’s important to speak with an experienced attorney. We know the truth. We put our experience and resources to work for families and their loved ones who have been abused or neglected.