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Comparing Virginia’s Nursing Homes – Here’s What You Need to Know about the Five Star Rating System




  |  posted by Kendall Law Firm   |   Nursing Home Abuse

A nurse assisting a nursing home patient in Charlottesville.

As your loved ones age, you may find it difficult to provide them with the care they require. Most family members and homes are not equipped to handle the day-to-day needs of elderly loved ones, especially those who have health issues or are disabled in some way. Even those who require basic assistance with getting dressed, bathing, and eating, may need much more attention and supervision than you are currently able to give.

Nursing homes are in the business of providing these services and promise to give our loved ones a safe, secure place where they can be cared for and looked after by trained, qualified staff. The problem is that it can be difficult to know how to go about finding the right nursing home.

How do you know which one is right for your family member? How can you determine which meets your loved one’s needs? How can you be sure your loved one will be safe and not fall victim to nursing home abuse? The answer is to compare nursing homes.

Comparing nursing homes will help you see not only the different services offered, but the differences in quality of care, available treatment options and level of security. If you are interested in comparing Virginia’s nursing homes, we recommend you use the Five Star Quality Rating System developed by the government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to help you identify the highest-rated nursing homes in your area.

What is the Government’s Five Star Rating System?

The government has created a Five Star Quality Rating System which consumers can use when choosing a nursing home. The five star system rates nursing homes based on health inspection results, staffing, quality measures, and then issues an overall star rating. Those nursing homes with a five-star rating generally have a much higher quality of service and care, whereas nursing homes with a lower rating are considered to be below average.

Scores from one to five can be given for:

  • Health inspection results from the prior three years of onsite inspections, as well as results based on standard surveys and complaints made.
  • Staffing, which is often based on how many hours per day the nursing home has any one or all of the following staff on duty: a Registered Nurse (RN) on duty, a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), and a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). Specialized nursing homes should have more nursing staff per shift than standard nursing homes.
  • Quality measures, based on 11 physical and clinical standards, which now includes information as to the nursing home’s antipsychotic medication use.

According to, recent changes in the five star system have now increased the points needed to earn a higher rating in the quality measure category, as well as made adjustments to the staffing rating to require more RNs or total staff before a nursing home can earn a 4-star rating.

How the Five Star Rating System Can Help You Compare Nursing Homes in Virginia

Those who are in need of a nursing home for an elderly loved one or family member can use the government’s “Nursing Home Compare,” which allows you to easily review and analyze information about nursing homes into which you may be considering placing an elderly loved one. The system contains information and rankings on over 15,000 Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes across the country to help make the task of comparing nursing homes simpler for the average person.

Instead of going in person to nursing homes in your area, all you need to do is go online to the Nursing Home Compare site, enter the city, state or zip code where you want to conduct your search, and review each nursing home’s star rating. From this list you will then be able to narrow down your search to determine the nursing homes you to visit and evaluate in person.

Most importantly, using the five-star system can help minimize your chances of placing your loved one in a nursing home that has substandard care and a low rating, where he or she may be more likely to be subjected to nursing home abuse or neglect.

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