Researches find that nursing homes services used by nearly 2 million older adults each year. Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website now includes a “star rating” (a composite measure of quality) for rehab services skilled nursing care and physical; therefore occupational or speech therapy for people recovering from a hospitalization. Because The site also breaks out 13 measures of the quality of rehab care; offering a more robust view of facilities’ performance.

Speech therapy for people

Independent experts and industry representatives welcomed the changes; saying they could help seniors make better decisions about where to seek care after a hospital stay. This matters because high-quality care can help older adults regain the ability to live independently; while low-quality care can compromise seniors’ recovery.

“It’s a very positive move;” said David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School. He noted that previous ratings haven’t distinguished between two groups in nursing homes with different characteristics and needs temporary residents getting short-term rehabilitation and permanent residents too ill or frail to live independently.

Short-term rehabilitation

Temporary residents are trying to regain the ability to care for themselves and return home as soon as possible; he noted. By contrast, permanent residents aren’t expecting improvements: Their goal is to maintain the best quality of life. Three separate ratings for the quality of residents’ care now appear on the Nursing Home Compare website: one for overall quality; another one for “short-stay” patients  and a third for “long-stay” patients (people who reside in facilities for more than 100 days).

Ratings for short-stay patients available for 13,799 nursing homes vary considerably, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of data published by the government in late April. Nationally, 30% of nursing homes with a rating received five stars, the highest possible. Another 21% got a four-star rating, signifying above-average care. Twenty percent got three stars, an average performance.

Seventeen% got two stars, a worse-than-average score. And 13% got one star, a bottom-of-the-barrel score. (Altogether, 1,764 nursing homes did not receive ratings for short-stay patients.) Here’s information about how to find and use the new Nursing Home Compare data, as well as insights from Kaiser Health News’ analysis:

Above-average care

Finding data about rehabilitation. Enter your geographic location on Nursing Home Compare’s home page, and a list of facilities will come up. You can select three at a time to review. Once you’ve done so, hit the “compare now” button at the top of the list. (To see more facilities, you’ll need to repeat the process.)

A new page will appear with several tabs. Click on the one marked “quality of resident care.” The three overall star ratings described above will appear for the facilities you’ve selected. Below this information, two options are listed on the left side: “short-stay residents” and “long-stay residents.” Click on “short-stay residents.” Now you’ll see 13 measures with actual numbers included (most but not all of the time), as well as state and national averages.