James M. Berklan

One can excuse nursing home operators if they feel like commiserating with a bit of Rolling Stones playing in the background. They do, after all, have a lot in common with Mick Jagger and his bandmates.

A big difference between the two, however, is that one group proudly sings they “can’t get no satisfaction” in front of thousands of people at a time, while the other quietly stews about it in senior care facilities around the country.

For nursing home operators, they simply can’t get no satisfaction about … not getting resident satisfaction survey results included in government-sponsored reviews and rankings. The issue has ebbed and flowed for more than a decade, but most recently it’s flared up when providers have taken umbrage at some heavier-handed administration moves to increase “transparency” — with none of them involving adding resident and family member feedback.

Especially galling is the fact that so many other provider groups — hospitals, hospices and home health among them — DO have satisfaction scores included in their public profiles overseen by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

But this is a lot stickier than might first appear. It is not an issue of merely needing a valid measuring instrument that providers couldn’t tamper with (a common suspicion of consumer advocates).

As noted above, the other providers have a valid survey. In addition, the American Health Care Association created its own version, which was validated by a third party. So it’s generally accepted that there can be a way to gauge public opinion without the reviewees tampering with results.

But, as should be no surprise to anyone who has worked in and around government for any period of time, it comes down to differing opinions. And money. Who would pay for a relatively expensive interview process is one of the biggest issues, as well as who could be bypassed or exempt from giving satisfaction feedback. 

And you thought serving a lot of frail, elderly often dementia-stricken individuals was rough enough already for other reasons.

You are special health professionals and your clientele is, for better or worse, unlike that of most of your caregiving peers. This, as a CMS spokeswoman told McKnight’s, is going to take some time to sort out, and we can see why — if it ever does get sorted out, that is.

Just remember, however: It won’t get much closer without pressure applied from within, so continue to give it your best shot. 

But if you’re a long-term care provider, you know very well by now that CMS officials may wind up reminding you of another Rolling Stones song.

Follow Executive Editor James M. Berklan @JimBerklan.