Efforts to improve care at the state’s more than 400 nursing homes are paying off for clients who receive care in facilities regulated by surveyors in DHHS’s Division of Health Service Regulation.
After two years of focusing on two key improvement areas, there is an increase in the number of homes achieving higher star ratings reflected in the online Nursing Home Compare web site, operated by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
“We are very pleased to see that the star ratings for North Carolina’s nursing homes have improved,” said Beverly Speroff, chief of the Nursing Home Licensure and Certification Section of DHSR. “We have worked hard to proactively keep providers informed about citation patterns and new initiatives.”
CMS ranks nursing homes with star ratings of 1 to 5 determined by quality of care and other measures. In January 2009 the percentages of North Carolina’s 420 nursing homes with star ratings were: 26.9 rated a single star, followed by 17.6 with two, 21.1 with three, 22.9 with four and 12.7 with five. By 2011, the percentage of stars had shifted: 16.6 had one, 19.7 had two, 20.0 had three, 27.3 had four and 16.4 had five. The star ratings have caught the eye of the industry and they appear to provide incentive for improvement, particularly for those in the lower ranks.
Speroff credits the overall improvement to partnerships aimed at improving care. Partners include the Division of Aging and Adult Services, the North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association, N.C. Association of Consultant Pharmacists, the Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence and the N.C. Medical Directors Association. Efforts have focused on providing training on both the improvement of dementia care through reduction of antipsychotic medication, and reduction of patient falls, she said.
“These have been very successful collaborations with positive outcomes,” she said. “North Carolina was one of three states in the nation to meet a goal of reducing antipsychotics by 15 percent by the end of 2012. We continue to collaborate with nursing home stakeholders to provide the best care possible and promote new initiatives.”
So, what’s next? Speroff said that in the coming year DHSR staff will collaborate with the North Carolina Culture Change Coalition to promote the concept of “music and memory” as another approach to improve dementia care and reduce reliance on medications.