Hot Topic: Nursing Homes for Sex Offenders & Violent Offenders

TN- Nursing Homes To Be Evaluated Using New System

12-18-2008 Tennessee:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A new system is about to be unveiled that rates nursing home care across the country.

But there are questions about how well state facilities will do at a time when the number of complaints have reached record levels.

Less than 10 percent of Tennessee nursing homes have a five-star rating, which is the highest rating. There's concern about how Tennessee will fare, especially after the past two years when they've seen a record number of admission suspensions, and complaints.

Investigating two cases at a Tullahoma nursing home, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation discovered a resident was raped, another was sexually assaulted.

"The victims in both instances are elderly females," said Kristin Helm, TBI spokeswoman. "It's hard to say what exactly they went through, but of course, anything like that is going to be very traumatic."

While the TBI checks out the complaints, state health investigators are checking out thousands more.

The number of nursing home complaints has climbed to almost 3,700, which is higher than last year.

"I think we also understand that the number of suspended admissions is the same as it was last year, and that was an increase from the year before," said Patrick Willard, AARP Tennessee assistant director for advocacy.

The state has ordered 25 nursing homes not to admit any new patients until serious problems are resolved.

Starting Thursday with a key stroke, anyone will be able to find more information about the quality of nursing home care. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have created a five-star rating system for each facility.

"They are going to be looking at staffing. They are going to be looking at quality of care," Willard said.

And they'll look at health inspection reports, to create their rating.

The AARP believes the new system will be a good way of explaining where nursing homes stand, especially at a time when some Tennessee homes face big problems.

"I think it's always going to be a matter of concern when you see the number of complaints increase," Willard said. "I think you are always going to want a health department that's going to do a good job of investigating those complaints, making sure they are resolved, and making sure that the number of complaints goes down because nursing homes understand what is behind these complaints."

If anyone wants to check out the new rating system, they can do so Thursday afternoon by visiting the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Web site. The federal agency oversees the quality of care in the nation's nursing homes.

CMS officials said their rating system should not be used as the only piece of information when choosing a nursing home. They believe there's no substitute for visiting a facility and meeting with staff, residents and other families. ..Source.. by News Channel5

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