Nursing home quality varies by region in Mass.

Associated Press | 1/7/2009, 3:59 a.m.

Elissa Sherman, president of the Massachusetts Aging Services Association, whose members include nursing home owners, said the rating system is flawed because it doesn’t consider factors such as family satisfaction.

“There are some facilities with excellent reputations who did well on staffing but had a poor state inspection and were rated very poorly,” she said.

But Karen Clay, director of nursing at the Berkshire Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center in Sandisfield, which received a five-star rating, said the system can give a good snapshot of a facility.

“Anyone can have a rough survey one year, but if you have three years of tough surveys there may be something to it,” she said.

Alan Rosenfeld, president of the Julian J. Leavitt Jewish Nursing Home in Longmeadow, which received three stars, said some parts of the state had fewer four and five star homes because quality inspectors there tended to be tougher, not because of relative affluence.

“There is great variability and that has more to do with the [inspectors] than the quality of the institution,” he said.

He also said some factors — like the frequency of falls — worked against facilities with higher numbers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, who can be more prone to falls. Of 200 beds in his nursing home, 80 are dedicated to Alzheimer’s patients.

The highest ranking in the nation went to Delaware, where 30 percent of nursing homes were given five-star ranking. States with the highest percentage of one-star nursing homes were: Louisiana, (40 percent); Georgia (32 percent); Virginia (32 percent); and Tennessee, (31 percent).

Industry representatives cautioned against comparing states, saying some states have tougher inspections than others.

Federal officials and nursing home owners agree nothing should replace visiting a home before making a final decision on its quality.

(Associated Press)

For County-by-county quality rankings click