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By Richard Asinof
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Rhode Island ranked second in the nation in a newly released survey of nursing home quality of care, according to Families for Better Care, a Florida-based nursing home resident advocacy group.
The group published the nation’s first-ever state-by-state nursing home report card, analyzing eight federal measures to benchmark nursing home quality.
Rhode Island scored superior grades in five of the eight measures and is the only one of two states that scored above average grades across the board, according to the report.
“Rhode Islanders should be proud of their accomplishment,” said Brian Lee, Families for Better Care’s executive director. “The state exemplifies what can be achieved when operators, regulators and consumers strive for quality nursing home care for residents.”
Among the key findings were that Rhode Island ranked in the five of all regulatory measures and in ombudsman complaints – the only state to accomplish this feat. In addition, about 25 percent of Rhode Island’s nursing home inspections were deficiency-free – a record topped only by two other states.
Virginia Burke, director of the Rhode Island Health Care Association, a nonprofit trade association of skilled nursing and rehabilitation providers, called the report “a pretty good indication that we’re providing outstanding care in Rhode Island.”
It’s the first time that Families for Better Care has compiled such rankings, Burke continued, “so it will be interesting to see how much attention is paid. We have been at the top of quality standings for quite some time, but that doesn’t get a lot of coverage. People are more interested in things that go wrong, rather than things that go well, when it comes to health care,” Burke said.
Burke attributed the high ranking to the culture of quality and the emphasis on person-centered care in Rhode Island.
James Nyberg, director of LeadingAge RI, an association of more than 50 nonprofit nursing homes, assisted living facilities and senior day care centers, said it was nice to see Rhode Island ranked so high nationally. “The report reinforces all the research that higher levels of staffing are associated with better outcomes and better quality,” Nyberg said. Moving forward, he continued, as things change with health care and in long-term care, “it’s important to remember how nursing homes are paid to ensure adequate funding of staff and quality of care.”
The top-ranked state was Alaska, followed by Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Oregon, Maine, Utah, Idaho, South Dakota and North Dakota.
The lowest-ranked nursing home state that scored an overall failing grade was Texas, followed by Louisiana, Indiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Michigan, Nevada, Illinois and Iowa.