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SENIOR CALENDAR Web site an added tool in nursing home search

Are you or a loved one considering a move into a nursing home? If so, you may be interested in the Minnesota Department of Health's (MDH) Web site that allows consumers to view a nursing home's most recent health department survey results and the facility's response to its findings. This new tool can be found at www.health.state.mn.us .

Minnesota nursing homes that receive payment from Medicare and/or Medical Assistance are required to meet specific regulations.

The process by which these standards are evaluated by MDH is often referred to as a survey. The surveys are unannounced and usually occur once a year.

According to the MDH Web site, "The surveys evaluate the quality of care and services provided, as well as the appropriateness of the facility's building, equipment, staffing, policies, procedures and finances. They are a snapshot of the facility's performance at the point in time when the survey is conducted."

While consumers have always been able to use Medicare's Web site, www.medicare.gov, to compare nursing home survey results, these results do not show the facility's response or the correspondence between the facility and MDH.

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Consumers now have the option to review the details of the deficiencies and to draw their own conclusions based on the information cited.

It is important to remember that the MDH survey is only one factor in determining which facility will best fit your wants and needs. While survey results can be used to make an informed decision, consumers should also visit prospective nursing homes and talk with family and friends.

For more information about the survey process or to access local nursing home survey results, visit www.health.state.mn.us.

For those without Internet access, you may contact the Olmsted County Advocacy Program at 287-1408 for assistance.

Sandra Archer is director of the Advocacy Program in Olmsted County.

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