New Rating System for Nursing Homes

A new five-star rating system ranks the quality of the nation’s 15,800 nursing homes that participate in Medicare or Medicaid. It is based on state and federal health inspection surveys, quality-of-care data, and staffing information.

A five-star ranking indicates that a nursing home is performing well above average and one star means it ranks well below average.

Rankings will be updated monthly and can be found at the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) web site ( under the search tool Compare Nursing Homes in Your Area.

The new rating system should give poor-performing nursing homes an incentive to improve the quality of the care they provide. Twelve percent of the nation’s federally assisted nursing homes received five stars in the first monthly rating.  Twenty-two percent of the nursing homes received just one star while sixty-six percent received two, three, or four stars.

In addition to the overall star rating, consumers can access detailed information about specific nursing homes through the web site. After looking at the overview, consumers should look specifically at bed-sore rates and patient restraint rates.

If either of these rates is high, that is an indicator of a problem.  However, no rating system or web site can substitute for families actually visiting the nursing homes they are considering for a family member.

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