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How does Medicare’s nursing home rating system work?

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How does Medicare’s nursing home rating system work?

On Behalf of | May 2, 2021 | Elder Law

If your elderly parents can no longer care for themselves, you may have little choice but to move them into a nursing home. Your parents’ long-term care plan may designate the place they want to go. If not, you must choose a nursing home you can trust to provide appropriate care.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services uses a five-star rating system to inform nursing home residents and their families about the quality of many facilities. If you are starting your parents’ nursing home search from scratch, understanding this rating system may help you make an informed choice.

Health and safety inspections

When assigning its rating, the CMMS first looks at health and safety conditions at the nursing home. When doing so, a CMMS official reviews the three most recent health inspections for the facility and also looks at complaints. The better a nursing home does on health and safety inspections, the higher its rating typically is.


Many nursing home residents require round-the-clock care, while others need little assistance. Either way, professionals at the facility often must administer medications, bathe and feed residents and perform other essential tasks. When rating nursing homes, the CMMS considers how many hours nurses and other employees spend with residents every week.

Quality measures

Finally, the CMMS evaluates each nursing home for 15 quality measures. These measures include infection rates, vaccinations, fall prevention and other metrics. The quality measures change depending on whether a nursing home provides short- or long-term care.

When selecting the right nursing home for your elderly parents, you likely want to interview staff at the facility and make a few site visits. Nevertheless, using the CMMS’s five-star rating system may weed out low-quality nursing homes.