Greg Dill
Courtesy: Medicare

On a recent Sunday morning, I woke up to a text message from a co-worker saying she’d been up all night with her mother in the emergency room. Her mom had fallen, broken her hip and was being admitted to the hospital for surgery. As you can imagine, my colleague was exhausted, worried and facing some important decisions. Even as her mom was being prepped for surgery, the hospital’s care coordinator was asking my colleague which rehabilitation facility her mom should be sent to after being released from the hospital.

As a fellow official of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, my associate has a better-than-average understanding of the healthcare system. But she’d never had to find a rehabilitation facility for a loved one. So she turned to an online tool CMS developed to help people find a suitable nursing home when they need one.

The tool is called Nursing Home Compare and you can find it on our website. Just click on the “Find nursing homes” button and enter your zip code or city and you can begin your search.

Nursing Home Compare assigns between one and five stars to every nursing facility that participates in Medicare or Medicaid, with five stars being the highest rating. These star ratings give you and your family an easy-to-understand summary of three important dimensions of nursing home quality: health inspection results, staffing information and quality-of-care.

The goal of our five-star quality rating system is to help people distinguish between higher- and lower-performing nursing homes. CMS also wants to help nursing homes identify problem areas and to improve their quality.

Nursing facilities receive an overall star rating based on three types of performance indicators, each of which has its own star rating:

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