Md. Nursing Home Survey Is Updated (Washington Post)


Posted to Nursing

A family member needs to go into a nursing home for short- or long-term care, but you have little time to pick a place and even less emotional energy to comparison-shop. And yet the decision can be life-altering for the person who is ill and the ones who guide the process.

Maryland residents, for the second year in a row, can turn to a state Web site to learn about options and to find out which nursing homes have been ranked by patients’ family members or others as having high-quality care and which came up short.

The Maryland Health Care Commission recently released its 2008 Maryland Nursing Home Family Experience of Care Survey, which rates about 235 nursing homes and continuing-care facilities based on the observations of family members or others designated by patients.

Maryland is one of a handful of states that collect and publish the information, said Bruce Kozlowksi, head of the commission’s Center for Long-Term Care and Community-Based Services.

"The commission is very oriented to public information and the availability of public information," he said. "That is a big part of our mission."

The nursing-home report scores facilities on the quality of the staff and the administration, the physical condition of the facility, the quality of care and food and whether residents’ rights and autonomy are being managed as promised. The report said that 89 percent of those responding would recommend particular nursing homes to others, a slight increase over the previous year’s report. The average score for overall care received was 8.2 out of 10, unchanged from 2007.

"There is substantial variation across nursing homes," Rex Cowdry, the commission’s executive director, said in a statement.

"One of our major goals in public reporting is to encourage improvements in care, particularly in nursing homes with lower scores," he said.

Smaller nursing homes, those with 80 beds or fewer, had the highest overall ratings, receiving scores of 8.8 out of a possible 10. They were followed by nonprofit homes and homes in the western section of Maryland, which were rated 8.6.

Kozlowski said the anonymity of the survey responses is a key factor in encouraging honest answers from family members or others who fill out the forms. The commission mailed 17,000 surveys in the fall and received about 9,000 responses, he said.

The commission expects to expand its surveys and data gathering in the next few years, and will seek opinions on short stays in rehabilitation facilities, as well as home health care and assisted-living facilities.

"We want to make more and more information available to Marylanders to benefit them in the context of their health-care choices," Kozlowksi said.

To see the nursing home survey results and other available tools, go to: and click on "Consumers," "Nursing Home Guide" and "2008 Family Survey."

More in the Maryland Section

Blog: Maryland Moment

Blog: Md. Politics

Washington Post staff writers provide breaking news coverage of your county and state government.

Local Explorer

Local Explorer

Use Local Explorer to learn about Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia communities.

Md. Congressional Primary

Election Results

Obama and McCain swept the region on February 12.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company

') ; } // -->