COVID-19 Renders Nursing Home Compare Website ‘Almost Worthless,’ Senator Says

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Nursing Home Compare tool is intended to provide detailed information on the quality of care and staffing at nursing homes across the country. However, one U.S. senator is calling out the site for being out of date and “almost worthless” during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to WPXI-TV News.

Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania has recently called upon CMS to provide more accurate and relevant information on the Nursing Home Compare tool in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The senator says the site fails to provide up-to-date information about how nursing homes have handled the COVID-19 crisis. He also argues that this lack of information, or even a disclaimer warning that the information isn’t current, is misleading to the public.

In fact, he noted that one nursing home with a five-star rating on the site recently was issued massive fines by CMS for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis. More than 80 residents have died at that facility.

CMS Is Currently Only Doing Emergency Inspections

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, CMS is only conducting limited inspections. This means sending investigators only for emergency situations triggered by reports of multiple residents being in imminent jeopardy of injury and death.

Moreover, as a result of the halt in regular inspections of nursing home facilities, CMS announced on April 24 that the inspection domain on the website would be held constant. CMS officials explained that changing the ratings based on emergency inspections would lead to an overweighting of some facilities’ ratings that could mislead consumers.

Tips for Evaluating a Nursing Home During the Pandemic

Evaluating a nursing home for a loved one would typically involve an in-person visit to the facility. With the COVID-19 pandemic, though, many nursing homes are prohibiting any visitors or limiting visitors only to close family of residents. This can make it especially difficult to choose a nursing home for a loved one.

However, if you are considering placing a loved one in a nursing home facility during the pandemic, follow these tips:

  • Determine whether your loved one really needs a nursing home. Nursing homes are intended for people with medical needs. So if your loved one only needs help with cooking, cleaning, or bathing, an assisted living facility may be more appropriate.
  • Check with your state’s nursing home regulator or ombudsman office for information about the facility, including any reports, investigations, or fines/citations.
  • Search for online reviews of the facilities, and bring up any concerning reviews you find with the facility’s administrators.
  • If you can’t enter the facility due to restrictions, arrange to speak with members of the staff. You will want to get a feel for the staff’s level of care and concern for residents. Also, be sure to ask about staffing consistency.
  • If you can visit the facility, take note of smells that indicate a lack of cleaning. Pay attention to the grooming and hygiene of the residents. Ask to see the food being served and the living spaces of the residents.

Contact Us for Legal Advice

If your loved one has suffered harm in a nursing home during COVID-19, you need experienced legal representation. Let the Cain Law Office help your family pursue the financial compensation and justice you deserve.

Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a nursing home injury attorney.