If you are a member of the so-called “sandwich generation” – those people who are simultaneously caring for children as well as their elderly parents – you may be familiar with U.S. News & World Report’s college rankings. But did you know that U.S. News & World Report also has nursing home ratings? In fact, U.S. News recently evaluated more than 15,000 nursing homes across the country, ultimately including approximately 2000 of those facilities (366 in New Jersey) in its list of Best Nursing Homes.

U.S. News began publishing online ratings of nursing homes in 2009. Until its latest release, the tool used a “snapshot” of the star ratings posted on Nursing Home Compare, a consumer website of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS assigns an overall rating of one to five stars to nursing homes according to their performance in three areas – state-conducted health inspections, nurse staffing and medical quality measures.

Effective for the 2016-17 rankings, U.S. News modified its previous approach to the CMS ratings. In the current rankings, U.S. News changed its methodology to: “1) to evaluate a nursing home’s performance over time, by averaging monthly data over a year, 2) to place more emphasis on strong performance in medical quality measures by capping overall star ratings of homes with a low rating in this domain and 3) to ensure that highly rated homes provided more than the required minimum of rehabilitation therapy to residents who were classified as having received high levels of rehabilitative services.”

U.S. News evaluated 15,506 nursing homes by averaging each one’s CMS star ratings across a 12-month analytic period. U.S. News imposed rating caps on the overall nursing home ratings under certain conditions relating to a nursing home’s CMS star ratings.

Choosing a nursing home for a loved one can be overwhelming. There is more than just the nursing home ratings. Many other factors to consider include the person’s individual needs, the staff to patient ratio, state health inspection results, number of minutes of care provided to each patient, and medical quality measures.

Unfortunately, even the best of intentions and the most extensive research will not rule out the possibility of nursing home neglect or abuse.

What should you do if you suspect your parent is not receiving the level of care he or she requires? Maybe a bedsore develops and you aren’t sure the nursing staff is addressing it appropriately. Or your parent is losing weight and becoming listless. Maybe your loved one is complaining of pain.

If it feels like no one is listening when you say your parent needs more attention, to be moved more often to avoid bedsores, help with eating, an increased level of nursing or medical care, contact the Nursing Home attorneys at Stark & Stark. We will listen. We can help.