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How to Choose The Best Virginia Nursing Home

  • June 27, 2018
  • KBA Attorneys
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According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 3.2 million people reside in nursing homes and that number is only set to grow as the Baby Boomer generation continues to grow older. Virginia’s older population is at high risk for chronic illness at long-term care. Twelve percent of Virginia’s population is over 65.

Virginia has over 100,000 residents age 85+. This segment will grow 114% over the next 10-15 years. Virginia ranks in the top ten in the projected growth rate of those over 85.

Most Americans prefer to stay in their homes as they age. Over 800,000 Virginians rely on Medicaid. In Virginia, Medicaid allows some to choose in-home care instead of nursing home care. However, that option is not available for everyone. For those who must reside in a nursing home, either because of lack of funds for home care, or a condition that requires explicitly skilled nursing, it is essential to know how to find the best Virginia nursing homes.

CMS Nursing Home Compare

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which funds nursing homes across the country, has a five-star quality rating system to help consumers compare nursing homes. CMS rates nursing homes on health inspections, staffing, and quality measures. Consumers can use CMS’s five-star rating system to determine whether a nursing home is good or bad based on self-reported staffing data and government survey data. Such data can be reviewed online at Nursing Home Compare. This website allows you to search by zip code or nursing home name. The website ranks nursing homes in several categories, including overall rating, health inspections, staffing, and quality measures. It even lets users review redacted deficiencies issued to each nursing home. If you are specifically concerned about how the nursing home does with preventing falls, you can look in their annual survey results to determine whether any other nursing home residents have suffered falls.

Special Focus Facility List

CMS places the worst nursing homes on the Special Focus Facility List (SFFL). The SFFL was created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1998 to bring attention to nursing homes that are consistently below average in performance and have a history of deficiencies affecting patient safety. Each state must submit their six worst offenders. The 2018 list is publicly available here. The Fredericksburg Health and Rehab facility is named as the sole Virginia facility on the SFFL. According to Nursing Home Compare, this facility has a 1-star overall rating. Its staffing rated at a 1 star and is precisely the type of nursing facility that should be avoided at all costs. Savvy consumers can use the SFFL to find the worst facilities make sure their loved one stay out of them.

Pro Publica

Another great resource to find the best nursing homes in Virginia is Pro Publica. Pro Publica is nonprofit organization dedicated to investigative journalism and protecting consumers. They have culled data from federal government and made it into an easily searchable website. Consumers can search the site to determine which nursing homes have received the most severe deficiencies (Category L). According to Pro Publica’s website, the following facilities have received Category L deficiencies in 2017:

  • Skyline Nursing & Rehabilitation Center – Floyd, Virginia
  • Shore Health Rehab Center – Parksley, Virginia
  • Autumn Care of Suffolk – Suffolk, Virginia

These are facilities that families may want to avoid. That said, it is essential to look at the facility’s entire record, not just one deficiency.

Of the 290 nursing homes in Virginia, 72 of them faced penalties totaling more than $4.7 million since 2014, according to data posted by Medicare. The facilities that have incurred the most fines in that timeframe are:

  • Montvue Nursing Home in Luray, with more than $600,000 in fines
  • Cherrydale Health and Rehabilitation Center in Arlington, with almost $240,000 in fines
  • Harrisonburg Health & Rehabilitation Center in Harrisonburg, with more than $192,000 in fines

In 2017, U.S. News and World Report issued a list of the best nursing homes in the country and evaluated more than 15,000 nursing homes. 43 nursing homes made this list. You can review the full list of best Virginia nursing homes here.

In-Person Visit

For selecting a nursing home, nothing beats an in-person visit to the facility, so you can gauge with your senses whether the home is somewhere you would want to send a family member. Consider the following:

Staff Presence:

Is the staff easy to find and friendly? If the nursing home appears to be an empty cavern and is the staff hard to find, it may be an indication that the nursing home is no good.

Odor and Light:

Is the nursing home well-lit and is the smell pleasant? A clear indication of a poor-quality nursing home is a bad stench. Further, nursing homes with light bulbs missing or remains poorly lit is an indication that bigger problems are lurking below the surface.

Person-Centered Care:

Are there individual care activities? Are specific food tastes taken into account? Be sure to ask a lot of questions of the Director of Nursing and Administrator before placing a resident in the facility. Walk around the facility and speak to residents. Ask if they like the facility and the activities. If the residents are happy and engaged, the nursing home is of high quality.

If you or a family member has been injured in a Virginia nursing home, contact Peter Anderson of Ketterer, Browne & Anderson.