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Jewish World Review Nov. 6, 2003 /11 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins

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Consumer Reports

'Ziva' gets the scoop on nation's nursing homes | Q: My father died last year and my mother, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease several years before, moved in with my husband and I. We both work and arranged for her at-home care, but Mom continues slipping and we now pay more than $9,000 per month for her care. Dad provided for her in his will, but at this rate she will run out of money faster than we had planned. Admitting her to a nursing home was not our original plan, but we believe the time has come. Mom is 81 and in otherwise good health, so we want to make sure she has the best quality of life available. We've received mixed reviews about local facilities. How can we research the facilities in our area for unbiased information?

A: Placing a loved one in a nursing facility is generally the last choice that a family makes. But because of the number of nursing facilities throughout the United States and the amount of conflicting information about them, it's difficult to make an evaluation. There are many Web sites that contain good information about these 17,000 U.S. nursing homes, but we like the format and content of

The format offers basic information about every licensed nursing home in the country and, in our view, makes the complicated investigation process easier. Consumers and healthcare professionals can get sufficient information to make an initial evaluation by not only being able to compare nursing homes, but also to understand the various services and payment options.

Donate to JWR is easy to navigate, and because participating nursing facilities can "tell their stories" in pictures and words, valuable facility-specific information is available. Through a user-friendly search engine, you can find nursing homes in various locales throughout the country. You can even delineate your search according to facility name, type of ownership, number of beds, number of residents, percentage of occupancy, zip code, city, county and state.

Through a Comparison Tool, you can perform an analysis of nursing homes, including a side-by-side comparison of the inspection reports, quality rankings and the all-important staffing ratios (the number of staff members per resident).

In addition, maintains current governmental data and reports gathered and maintained by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The Survey section of the Web site provides a detailed listing of governmental performance surveys and records of previous surveys so that you can track a facility's progress over time.

Facility performance is monitored in the areas of administration, environment, mistreatment, nutrition and diet, pharmacy service, quality care, resident assessment and resident rights. The Quality Measures section offers government data on the percentage of facility residents with physical restraints; with infections; with unexpected, sudden or rapid loss of ability in basic daily tasks; with pain; with pressure sores; with delirium; and about those who walk as well or better than at the time of admission. The Staffing Section provides detailed information on hours spent by staff members caring for each resident, on a facility, state and national level.

We like because it provides easily accessible and tangible information about facilities to which you will entrust the care of your loved ones. Another important feature is that facilities have the opportunity to supplement and explain governmental reports and provide virtual photo tours. You can even e-mail facilities in which you are interested directly and create your own home page that can list the facilities of your choice. You can then receive updates on these chosen facilities via this home page.

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JAN L. WARNER received his A.B. and J.D. degrees from the University of South Carolina and earned a Master of Legal Letters (L.L.M.) in Taxation from the Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a frequent lecturer at legal education and public information programs throughout the United States. His articles have been published in national and state legal publications. Jan Collins began co-authoring Flying SoloŽ in 1989. She has more than 27 years of experience as a journalist, writer, and editor. To comment or ask a question, please click here.


Care decisions for 'elder orphans'
Seeking help for dementia victims
Read admission-package 'agreements'; booting a patient once Medicaid kicks in
Can the kids block our cash flow?; childless couple agonizes over whether to use
powers of attorney or a living trust to manage our assets

Control your assets from the grave
Slacker son will blow his fortune; lawyer's role in "estate-planning"
Mom remarried and spent my inheritance; doesn't want daughter-in-law to receive anything from estate
Can we stop our brother from swindling us?
What Gifting Will Disqualify You From Medicaid
The 'magic' language for a power of attorney agreement
Is care insurance a healthy choice?
Is there protection against Medicaid costs?
Long-term care insurance comes up short
HIPAA -- too much privacy?; nursing home doc could care less
Private pay nursing home residents pay more
Separated families should use care managers
What Makes Up a Caregiving Team?
Who is the client, parents or children?:

© 2003, Jan Warner