By Starrla Cray
DASSEL, COKATO, MN Choosing the right nursing home for a loved one requires careful consideration, and one tool that can help is “Nursing Home Compare.”
The data, available on the Medicare website, rates facilities based on health inspections, staffing, and quality measures. A one-star rating is considered “much below average” while a five-star rating is “much above average.”
Locally, Lakeside Health Care Center in Dassel received an overall rating of five stars, with a four-star rating for staffing. The total number of licensed nurse staff hours per resident per day is 1 hour and 49 minutes, which is above the state average of 1 hour and 38 minutes.
Cokato Manor received two stars for health inspections, three stars for staffing, and five stars for quality measures, for an overall rating of three stars.
“We’ve made some significant improvements in quality measures,” administrator Jim Broich said.
Quality measures are based on resident pain levels, depression, excessive weight loss, vaccinations, and more.
At Cokato Manor, 7.5-percent of long-stay residents received anti-psychotic medication, compared to the state average of 13.7 percent. Fewer residents at Cokato Manor have symptoms of depression, as well 2.2 percent, compared to the state average of 4.6 percent.
Broich has been an administrator for 36 years, and has served in Cokato the past three years. He said continual improvement is always the goal.
“Right now, our nursing staff is working very hard on infection control programs,” he said.
Long-term care facilities must meet certain infection control standards in order to participate in Medicare or Medicaid programs.
Broich said new requirements will “significantly increase paperwork,” and a new position will likely be added to take care of the extra documentation.
Medicare.gov notes that the nursing home ratings are just one element in helping to find the right facility for a loved one. Visiting the facility in person, and asking questions, can give a more complete picture of quality.
Suggested questions include:
• What types of activities are offered?
• Are pets allowed to stay or visit?
• Who are the doctors providing care?
• What is included in the care plan?
• Is preventative care a focus?
• How much time do nurses spend with residents?
• Are there religious/cultural opportunities?
• Are a variety of meal choices available?
• Can visitors come at any time, or is an appointment required?
• How are residents and their belongings kept safe/secure?
• How are costs calculated? Are there extra charges for other services?
To see nursing home ratings in detail, go to www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare.