Image of male nurse pushing senior woman in a wheelchair in nursing facility

Good staffing measures and patient outcomes were among the common denominators for the more than 3,200 facilities ranked as top providers in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Nursing Homes ratings. 

The organization unveiled its 2020-2021 nursing home ratings and report Tuesday. What distinguishes this report from the federal government’s Nursing Home Compare website is that it evaluates nursing homes in different domains of care: short-term and long-term stay, explained Ben Harder, managing editor and chief of health analysis at U.S. News & World Report. 

More than 1,100 nursing homes, out of about 13,400 assessed, were designated as high-performing in the long-term care rating, while more than 2,360 were ranked as high-performing in the short-term rating. 

“We’ve really built our analytical methodology around those two different groups, populations of patients and those two different services that the facilities provide, so we publish a rating of each facility in each of those areas — if it does in fact provide both types of care,” Harder told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News Monday. 

The Long-Term Care Rating includes data on staffing, success in preventing ER visits and pneumonia vaccination rates, among other metrics. The short-term rating incorporates measures of quality, including consistency of registered nurse staffing, use of antipsychotic drugs and success in preventing falls. 

Success in discharging residents to home and preventing readmissions to the hospital or emergency room are key measures where top-rated facilities show well. 

“The leading nursing homes are doing a lot to improve the outcomes and to really focus on those particular quality measures,” Harder said.

“Our methodologies put a lot of emphasis on the outcomes in addition to staffing, and I know that the leading facilities are working on improving those outcomes and making sure that more patients get home if they’re intended to be there for short-term rehab. If they’re long-term residents for nursing homes, they’re not getting excessive admissions to the hospital,” he added. 

Harder noted that the ratings can serve as an “important tool” for case managers, discharged planners, patients and families. He noted that the federal government has clarified guidance to hospitals within the past year that patients need to be informed of the quality of the nursing facilities that are available to them.  

“In that context, I think it’s then relevant for the post-acute care provider to understand how a facility compares to its peers through the eyes of that patient or [their] family members,” Harder said. 

The full ratings list can be found here.