Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
February 5, 1999
TRENTON -- Health and Senior Services Commissioner Len Fishman today unveiled an inspection-driven rating system for nursing homes to help consumers seeking long-term care for themselves or a family member. The new performance report is available on the department's website..
"Choosing a nursing home is a very difficult decision and one that is often made during a crisis," said Fishman. "Through this report, we have taken highly technical and sometimes difficult-to-interpret inspection data and put it into a simple and easy-to-understand reference tool for those looking for long term care."
Consumers should use the performance report with other informational resources and personal visits to nursing homes they are considering, the commissioner added.
The performance report uses inspection data collected over a two-year period to measure and compare nursing home compliance with 44 specific federal quality standards in the areas of nursing care, resident rights, food services, environment and administration. These criteria represent key indicators of quality of life and quality of care within nursing homes.
In the report, nursing homes are awarded one point for each evaluated standard met during the homes' last two federal standard surveys. Nursing homes with two consecutive deficiency-free surveys in the 44 evaluated areas receive a top score of 88 points, while homes that fail to meet those standards receive lower scores. Consumers can compare nursing homes to each other and to a statewide average score. New Jersey has 355 nursing homes caring for more than 47,000 state residents. The report includes data on the 332 nursing homes that accept Medicare or Medicaid for payment.
Fishman said the state's nursing home performance report is modeled on one unveiled last year by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. New Jersey is one of only a handful of states to produce such a report.
The New Jersey report's first posting shows a statewide average total score of 85. One hundred and seventeen homes received the top score of 88. Consumers who want to find out more about specific violations should visit the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration's Nursing Home Database on the Internet at www.medicare.gov/nursing/home.asp or contact the nursing home where by law the latest survey must be posted.
"Consumers want to be able to compare options," said Susan Reinhard, Deputy Commissioner for Senior Services. "This nursing home performance report gives consumers of health care services in New Jersey another important resource for making well-informed choices."
Nursing home scores in the report card are determined by the results of information gathered during the department's unannounced inspections. Survey teams comprised of registered professional nurses, nutrition consultants and registered pharmacists evaluate all aspects of resident care and nursing home procedures and practices, assessing facility compliance with state and federal standards. The team's evaluation includes inspection of medical records, observation of resident care, inspection of all areas of the nursing home, and interviews of residents, family members, staff or other individuals. Every nursing home in the state is inspected once a year on average and more often if problems are found.
While the new performance report gives consumers a new resource for evaluating nursing homes, Fishman cautioned it does not substitute for personal experience. "Consumers should always visit nursing homes they are considering and talk with friends, family and staff members prior to deciding which home best meets their needs."
The report card complements other consumer aids the department has made available on its website, including its informative and highly popular consumer guide Selecting a Long-Term Care Setting and New Jersey Nursing Home Inspection Report.
Selecting a Long-Term Care Setting leads caregivers step-by-step through the selection process and features easy-to-find, comprehensive information on such long term care options as nursing homes, assisted living facilities and alternate family care homes. It contains a county-by-county directory of long term care facilities and information and assistance resources. The guide provides information on financing, specialized care, and facility inspection reports. It also contains a checklist of specific questions consumers should ask when they call or visit a facility.
The department's New Jersey Nursing Home Inspection Report, which is updated quarterly, offers consumers information on state nursing home fines and other enforcement actions and quality improvement initiatives.
Persons without Internet access can get printed versions of
these reports by calling the department at 609-984-8177.