In Pennsylvania, over 75,000 people live in nursing homes. In most cases, someone probably took the time to check out facilities before choosing one. Fortunately, the Internet offers several ways to learn more before making this decision, including nursing home reviews. The following five online sources could help if you are trying to find the best possible care.
#1. Medicare Nursing Home Compare
Most people have heard of Medicare. This federal health insurance program helps about 61 million beneficiaries pay for their medical care. In most cases, Medicare does not cover long-term care. However, Medicare.gov does publish information about it.
For example, a service called “Nursing Home Compare” can be found at Medicare.gov. Here, you can find nursing homes by typing in a ZIP code, city, or state. You can also type in the name of a specific nursing home to get results for just that home.
Your search results tell you the overall rating, health inspections, staffing, quality measure, and distance. By pressing the “Add to compare” button, you can see up to three nursing homes side-by-side.
If you need more information, you can use other online sources to check nursing home reviews.
#2. ProPublica Nursing Home Inspect
You can find another source of online nursing home reviews at ProPublica. Unlike Caring.com, Nursing Home Inspect uses data from government inspections. Reviewing a nursing home’s fines and deficiencies might help you find a reputable facility.
#3. PA Department of Health Nursing Care Facility
The Pennsylvania Department of Health oversees Pennsylvania’s more than 700 nursing homes. On their website, you can search for nursing homes in specific locations. You can also find information about inspections, sanctions, and regulations.
Their Nursing Care Facility Locator Page allows you to search by county, city, or ZIP code, adding other search criteria if desired. For example, a search for homes in Montgomery County brings up 60 nursing homes. Like Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare, you can view a side-by-side comparison of several nursing homes that seem to fit your needs. It’s also important to note that inspection and deficiency surveys are available to provide in-depth perspectives.
#4. Online Platforms and Social Media Generally Are Not Recommended
Most people today look for online reviews before buying something. Searching social media might help you buy the best bread machine. However, it may not be the best source for something as important as a long-term care facility.
Online nursing home reviews typically are not objective or written by someone with knowledge of nursing home regulations. At best, they give you a surface review of one-person’s opinions of the home’s basic features.
Understand that none of these online services are conclusive. They use very limited information as the bases of their ratings. Some nursing homes with poor objective ratings provide better care than the ratings indicate and several have found ways to look better in these ratings than the actual quality of care. Once you have done your online search contact the Ombudsman with the local are agency on aging and see if there are a lot of complaints about the facilities you may be interested in. And most important, speak to people who have had loved ones in nursing homes. They will be the best indication of what they have experienced with their loved ones. And go to see the place, have a meal and watch how the staff and residents interact. That is the best way to get a feel for what your loved on will experience.
Online Nursing Home Reviews Can Help You Make the Right Decision
Of course, you want to find a long-term care facility that provides excellent care. How you will pay for that care is also a consideration, especially since private rooms at Pennsylvania nursing homes can cost more than $10,000 a month. Long-term care planning and Medicaid planning might help you deal with future nursing home costs.
Attorney Robert Slutsky was one of the first lawyers in Pennsylvania to focus on elder law issues. Since 1992, he has helped countless people successfully apply for Medicaid.
For a listing of skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities please check out our Chester County PA Elder Law Directory and Senior Guide online at: