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Choosing a nursing home: Knowing the rating system

Choosing a nursing home is a critical step in making sure a loved one is taken care of in the long term. Nursing homes are rated in accordance with a number of requirements. For instance, nursing homes with a one-star rating may have a history of abuse or poor hygiene, while five-star nursing homes may have a well-balanced staff and additional benefits for residents.

In Ohio, 963 nursing homes are open. In one rating system, only 20.6 percent of these nursing facilities had obtained five stars to indicate their quality. Sadly, 19.5 percent rated at one star and 21 percent rated at two. With around 40 percent of nursing homes rating so low, it's vital that residents' families take time to monitor their care. Only 41 percent of nursing homes were rated at four stars or higher.

Rating systems are designed to help people choose the right nursing homes for their loved ones. What do you do, though, if there are no three-, four- or five-star facilities near you? That is a problem, especially if in-home care isn't an option.

Families can protect their loved ones regardless of the rating the nursing home has. First, go to the facility. Get to know the staff who will work with your loved one. Talk to the director of the home. Take note of the sights, smells and sounds of the facility. If it smells like there is urine or vomit, then the facility may not be as clean as it should be. Likewise, if you don't see any nurses or help as you walk the halls, it's likely the facility is understaffed.

Choosing the right nursing home is difficult regardless of the rating system. If you find your loved one is hurt because of negligence or poor care, it's in your best interests to look into your legal options.

Source: The Plain Dealer, "A Critical Choice: Plain Dealer analysis of nursing home care in Ohio," John Caniglia, Jo Ellen Corrigan, accessed Oct. 13, 2017

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