Veterans and their families can now learn how the veterans’ nursing homes in their area measure up on characteristics such as the quality of care, nurse staffing and results from unannounced inspections.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the first time has publicly listed its ratings of the 133 nursing homes it runs across the country. Each facility received an overall rating ranging from one to five stars.
The VA quality measures are meant to show how well the nursing home is addressing the physical and clinical needs of its residents. In these first-ever public ratings, 34 facilities received an overall rating of five stars, while 11 were given only one star.
Several of the leading organizations for veterans welcomed the release of the ratings but said the VA should still provide more information about the quality of care in these facilities.
According to acting VA Secretary Peter O’Rourke, the agency “will release this data annually and use it to drive improvements across the VA nursing home system, including aggressive efforts to improve our 11 one-star facilities by sharing best practices.”
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also rates more than 15,000 private-sector Medicare- and Medicaid-participating nursing homes on a one- to five-star system. The VA-operated homes are not included in the CMS ratings.
In releasing the ratings, the VA drew a distinction with private-sector nursing homes by noting that it does not turn away any eligible veteran, no matter how challenging the veteran’s conditions or medical needs. The agency also pointed to the relatively high percentage of residents in its nursing homes who have conditions such as prostate obstruction, spinal cord injury, mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and combat injuries.
The VA characterized its release of nursing home ratings — along with the posting of VA hospital wait times, opioid prescription rates and other actions — as an example of the agency’s commitment to transparency.