California, LA (NursingSalary.org) – Beginning in the New Year, visitors and patients at the nursing homes in California will have the opportunity to view publicly posted ratings of each nursing facility. The ratings will evaluate health care and safety measures followed by the nursing homes, and come up with a publicly voted star rating system.
In US, California is the first place ever to bring the rating system into effect. The mandate about posting the ratings went into effect in 2008 and the system is designed to evaluate and compare the facilities provided in the California nursing homes. This evaluation will be put up for display at individual nursing homes and the Department of Public Health website.
Under the new law, the nursing homes are obligated to post information explaining the ratings and those facilities who fail to uphold the new law system has to pay up hefty fines. California alone has 1,235 federally evaluated and rated nursing homes. Out of 1,235 nursing homes, only 195 facilities have the lowest ratings.
However, it was not easy to bring the law into forced. Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles and Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, the sponsors of the legislation had to face opposition from nursing home officials and patient attorneys for making the rating system biased by failing to include recent state violations in the evaluation and for unfairly penalizing well running nursing homes that provide good care for terminally ill patients.
After much persuasion and deliberation, the five members Board of Supervisors in the Los Angeles County unanimously voted in support of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state health department to turn public with the ratings.
In spite of their efforts to make the rating system far and transparent, the nursing home officials and patient advocates remain dissatisfied with the outcome. They are hoping that the federal officials will look into the matter and improve the situation in the coming year. Nursing homes are of the opinion that the new system does not reflect the reality accurately.
The Director of Regulatory Affairs at the Sacramento-based California Association of Health Facilities that represents more than 800 skilled nursing facilities in the state, Mary Jann, commented that “It should just be a straight rating in a free-market system where you get stars based on performance”.
However, one cannot discount the fact that the need to provide transparent information to patients and visitors alike in the changing healthcare scenario is paramount. More needs to be done in terms of patient care and it all begins with the patient and their family making the right decision.