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Finding the Right Skilled Nursing Community for You

Finding the Right Skilled Nursing Community for You

Learn more about Lakewood, NJ, Skilled Nursing

While you may naturally link the words “skilled nursing facility” with nursing homes, the two aren’t necessarily connected. What is a skilled nursing facility? It’s a place — like a retirement community or stand-alone health center — that offers 24/7 access to care by a staff of licensed nurses and therapists. Whether you’re recovering from an injury, bouncing back from a lengthy illness or simply need more help with your daily activities than assisted living can provide, skilled nursing is the right choice for seniors who require around-the-clock attention.

Now that you know the basics, you may be wondering how to find the right skilled nursing care for you or your loved one. Fortunately for consumers, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) gives grades to all health care providers that accept federal funding through Medicare or Medicaid. They hand collect data and rank caregivers under the CMS Five-Star Quality Rating System, giving consumers an easy way to directly compare competing skilled nursing providers.

Understanding CMS Five-Star Quality Ratings

CMS scores skilled nursing facilities and other caregivers based on three criteria:

  • Health Inspections: CMS conducts surprise inspections of retirement communities and other senior care facilities every 12-15 months. To ensure compliance with federal regulations, inspectors evaluate resident rights, quality of life, medication management, environment and food services.
  • Staffing: Evidence shows a strong correlation between the number of skilled nursing staff and resident well-being. This rating is based on the ratio of nursing hours provided per day compared to the national average — more available nursing hours for each resident means a higher score.
  • Quality Measures (QMs): Based on a survey of community health outcomes, QMs include factors such as the number and severity of falls, the prevalence of negligent injury to health (including pressure ulcers and preventable infections), and the number of residents who self-report moderate to severe pain.

After assigning scores in each individual category, CMS weights those ratings by impact and performance relative to industry competitors before using the scores to generate an overall Quality Rating. Use the Medicare.gov Nursing Home Compare tool to check the ratings of caregivers both locally and across the nation.

As you evaluate your skilled nursing options, be sure to keep these questions in mind:

  • Does the caregiver accept payment through federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid? If not, they likely haven’t been inspected by CMS and may have little government oversight or regulation.
  • Does the caregiver have good scores in each category? It’s possible to receive a high overall rating while being weak in one area, so make sure to pay special attention to individual scores.
  • What were their past CMS ratings like, especially for health inspections? While CMS will do their best to bring a community into basic health compliance, you may want to choose a skilled nursing caregiver with a long history of consistently high ratings.
  • What does the general public think? Though CMS scores are a very useful tool, seeing what people have to say about a community in online reviews on websites like Facebook and Yelp can tell you what they’re like when the inspectors aren’t looking.
  • What does the media have to say? Since 2009, U.S. News & World Report has put together annual rankings for nursing homes, retirement communities, and other places offering skilled nursing services. Reading their list and using their Nursing Home Finder can help give you fresh perspective.

Learn More About Lakewood, NJ, Skilled Nursing

As a Life Plan Community, Harrogate employs a team with a passion for delivering high-quality, consistent care to seniors. That’s why we’re excited to tell you that Harrogate continues to hold a 5-Star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It takes no small amount of dedication and effort to achieve and maintain this score, which Harrogate Executive Director Charles Benjamin attributes to exceptional attention to detail, low staff turnover and forward-thinking leadership.

We invite you to compare Harrogate with other Lakewood skilled nursing options. First, learn more about us — then check out community reviews on Facebook and Yelp or look over our rankings from CMS and U.S. News & World Report.