Tips to Understanding How Nursing Homes are Rated

There are two major ways that consumers use to rate nursing homes in the United States. One is run by the U.S. government through Medicare and is known as Nursing Home Compare, and the second is YELP which is a popular online directory for finding out information about businesses in a particular area. There is a lot of disagreement as to the actual value of the two rating systems, and some confusion as to whether they are rating systems or marketing platforms. If a case evolves where a patient in the nursing home is mistreated and files a medical malpractice suit, there is no doubt that a nursing home neglect lawyer at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. will look at both these ratings to gain an overall view of the nursing home facility in question.

Both rating systems have three major components and a five-star rating scale, but that is where most of the similarity ends. The information gained from each is quite different, and it has been suggested that the overall approach to rating nursing homes would be better if the two organizations would combine and create a third system that has a mixture of both.

Tip 1: Know What to Expect from Each System

The Medicare system, Nursing Home Compare, is a qualitative based approach to rating the nursing homes. The nursing homes are rated according to Health Inspections, Staffing, and Quality Measures. Nursing Home Compare has been described as more of a quantitative tool giving a lot of facts and information about a nursing home, but not providing a lot of information about the level of personal care.

YELP, on the other hand, is a consumer-based approach that provides feedback from both patients and their families as to the care given in the nursing home. Professionals describe this rating as one that provides more of an understanding of what actually happens in the nursing home on a day-to -ay basis. These results are gathered from surveys and personal reports. A drawback to the YELP approach is that within a family there may or may not be an agreement as to the qualities of the nursing home since most of it based on personal opinion.

Tip II: View the Two Systems as Working Together

The Medicare Nursing Home Compare system gets its information from a national base of resident clinical data, Medicare Claims Data, and the federal government’s health inspections base. YELP gathers its information from reviews that members post. When it is all done, there is very little agreement on a particular rating for any one nursing home.

Many experts are frustrated with the fact that the Medicare model has no consumer voice in its rating system, and that is why some lean towards the YELP model. However, there is value in the qualitative data available through Medicare that tells the story of how the nursing home operates.

Common sense will advise that if you get a Medicare rating that says the nursing home is high in Quality Care but ranks lower in health inspection and staffing then it probably is a clear message that the quality is not where they think. How can you have a perfect score in Quality Care when your staffing is inadequate, and there are health inspection issues? It is wise to understand how the two systems support each other rather than try to define how they are different.

Final Thoughts

The two most widely used nursing home rating systems have only been in place since 2009, and the experts in the nursing business do not agree on which approach gives the most accurate picture of the quality of the nursing home being evaluated. They further recommend that any one considering a nursing home should review the ratings in connection with a planned visit.

At the Law Offices of Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., we can advise you on how to interpret this information if you suspect a loved one has experienced nursing home abuse or even wrongful death. Contact us at or call us at 1-866-MICH-LAW (1-866-642-4529) for a no obligation consultation. Our law firm never charges a fee unless we resolve your case.

Tristan is a professional writer and had careers as a teacher of English, school administrator, and as a broker in real estate sales. He has gained a great deal of legal experience through his service as the president of a teacher’s union, a member of the board for a real estate association, and as the chairman of the Government Affairs Committee for the real estate board of directors. Before beginning a full-time job as a freelance writer, he was the Executive Director of the Global Business Alliance for a local Chamber of Commerce and sat on the Government Affairs Committee for the Chamber.




There is no obligation for a case evaluation & no fee is charged unless a recovery is made.
Your privacy is important to us. Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. does not share, sell, rent, or trade personally identifiable or confidential information with third parties for any purpose.
Call Now Button