Study: Nursing home residents satisfied with overall care, but not with activities and food

As U.S. News & World Report expands its presence in long-term care with the Monday launch of a new program, “Best Senior Living,” for independent living, assisted living, memory care and continuing care retirement/life plan communities, can skilled nursing providers expect changes to the brand’s “Best Nursing Homes” ratings?

Perhaps, Chad Smolinski, chief product officer for U.S. News, tells McKnight’s. But not necessarily any time soon. And if and when changes come, they most likely would be an addition to the current ratings, he said.

“It is definitely something that we have on the radar for consideration,” Smolinski said, adding, however, that no specific plans exist right now.

The core of the methodology of the new “Best Senior Living” listings will be surveys of residents and their family members at participating operators. That differs from the “Best Nursing Homes” ratings, which incorporate data primarily derived from public sources such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Care Compare program.

Skilled nursing is “a very different market” from senior living, Smolinski said. “It’s more of a medical need,” whereas senior living is more about a long-term “living situation,” as much or more about a resident’s living experience as it is about an older adult’s medical needs.

“With nursing homes, if we were to include resident and family survey information, we would do that alongside a lot of the clinical information that we also use today,” Smolinksi said. “So it would be an ‘and’ and not a replacement.”

U.S. News has partnered with Activated Insights to conduct the surveys that will be the basis of the new senior living offering. Activated Insights already conducts surveys of skilled nursing provider employees for Fortune’s annual Best Workplaces in Aging Services rankings, launched in 2018.

“What attracted us to what Activated Insights is doing is that the goal on the benchmark is greater than 50% participation of residents and family members. From our experience, when you start getting the percentage of a population surveyed up into those numbers, you start to get a much more accurate picture of consumer sentiment,” Smolinksi said. “We think that that just makes it a much more robust product. If we can achieve something like that in other categories, whether it’s in a nursing home or home care or other areas where people are looking for guidance, then that can be very valuable.”

Activated Insights CEO Jacquelyn Kung, DrPH, MBA, told McKnight’s that “over time, we may collaborate on SNFs and other segments, too,” but that the company is focusing its U.S. News-related work on the senior living initiative for now.