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State improves website that grades nursing homes

A more user-friendly Nursing Home Report Card with more detailed information on Minnesota nursing facilities has been introduced by the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Minnesota Department of Health.

The Nursing Home Report Card, at nhreportcard.dhs.mn.gov, helps consumers compare the quality of care in nursing homes across the state. When launched in 2006, it was the first of its kind in the nation to provide consumers with information on quality of life and resident satisfaction with individual nursing homes.

Improvements in the revamped report card include more detailed information on quality and more flexibility for consumers in selecting quality measures important to them. Other new features include display of multiple facilities on the same screen to allow for comparisons, more than a year's worth of data for each facility, lists of facilities by city and links to Google Maps for locations and directions. The report card also includes rate data for each facility, bubbles explaining technical terms, bed capacity, ownership type, state inspection results and contact information.

"The new Nursing Home Report Card reflects our agency's goal to help consumers make decisions that are well-informed and the best for them and their families," said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. "When making final choices about care, this tool should be used in addition to visits to nursing homes and discussions with family, friends and staff members at the facilities."

Measures used in the report card were developed through extensive work by the departments of Health and Human Services in cooperation with nursing home stakeholders, industry experts, resident advocates, nursing home provider associations, administrators, labor unions, the University of Minnesota and others.

"A core mission of the Minnesota Department of Health is to protect vulnerable adults in nursing homes," said Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. "To do this, we need a strong system of inspections and active, informed families who partner with us by reporting problems and supporting high-quality nursing homes. This report card is an easy way for families to check whether a facility has had problems in the past and to then use that information to start a conversation with a potential nursing facility."

In Minnesota, $2.32 billion was spent on nursing home care in 2011. This includes $796 million in funds to nursing homes administered by the Department of Human Services through the Medical Assistance program. The Department of Human Services is also responsible for developing and interpreting policy concerning nursing home services, quality of care and rates. The Minnesota Department of Health is responsible for licensing and inspecting nursing homes, certifying them for participation in the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs and investigating complaints regarding nursing homes.

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