Some 1.5 million people are living in nursing homes in the United States, and the average cost for a year in a private room has reached over $83,000. Being financially prepared should you or a family member require long term care is an essential element of estate planning. But being prepared financially is only half of the equation. Finding a facility that best suits your needs is a challenging task as well. Fortunately we live in the information age, and the Internet has made it possible to do a great deal of research quickly and efficiently.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has created a Five-Star Quality Rating System to help consumers compare long term care facilities in their states. The five star rating system uses three data sources: (1) Health Inspections; (2) Nurse Staffing; and (3) Quality Measures. The top ten percent of facilities in each state are given five star ratings. The ratings for all long term care facilities in New York can be found at www.medicare.gov (Nursing Home Compare). This information has been further refined at health.usnews.com. The website shows all the facilities in each state that received a top overall rating of 5 stars from the CMS.
Five star rating are great but this is just a place to start. You will need to compile a list of facilities in your area that appear to be suitable, giving preference to those closest to your home. Call and arrange a visit to each of the facilities, and then make an unannounced second visit before making a final decision. Prepare a list of questions in advance or go to the Medicare.gov website and print out the Nursing Home Checklist. The checklist will help you stay on track and cover all the pertinent areas that you may not have considered on your own.
If you take advantage of the resources that are available and do some legwork you should be able to make an informed decision and feel at ease should you or a loved one find it necessary to spend some time in a long term care facility.