You can find the five star ratings for nursing homes by visiting the Medicare website. This site allows you to find ratings for nursing homes by county, state, city, zip code, or name of the nursing home. A brief review of the nursing homes in western Kentucky shows some five star facilities, but a considerable number of one and two star rated nursing homes as well.
I recommend that families pay particular attention to the rating with regard to staffing. Low staffing is one of the most common reasons for poor care in nursing homes. In order to be listed as a five star facility, nursing homes should provide at least 4.08 hours of combined nurse and nursing assistant care per day per resident. This calculation was derived from a 2001 government study that identified 4.08 hours as the minimum staffing level required to avoid pressure sores, severe weight loss, infections, and other harm to residents.
The Medicare website provides detailed information on health inspections, staffing ratios, and quality measures in the nursing home. The website also has a "compare" feature that allows you to do a quick comparison between up to three nursing homes.
While this rating system is an important tool in choosing a nursing home, no one should rely solely upon the ratings. When choosing a nursing home it is important to make a personal visit. It is important to observe the conditions of the home, talk with other family members, and read inspection records. The nursing home ombudsman program may also be a good resource for help in finding the appropriate nursing home for you or your loved one and for support and advice after placement. For Bowling Green, Kentucky and surrounding areas see www.klaid.org/ombudsman.