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Online Medicare tool helps you inspect potential nursing homes
NEW YORK (9/18/12)--Medicare has revamped its online tool to help you inspect, compare, and get guidance when choosing a nursing home for your loved one (The New York Times Sept. 6).

The new, unbiased, user-friendly version of Nursing Home Compare became available in July. The tool, part of Medicare.gov, provides full text reports from nursing home inspectors. Visit Medicare.gov and search for "nursing home compare." Type in your ZIP code and click "Show Nursing Homes" to see a table of all facilities that are certified to participate in Medicare or Medicaid within a radius of your choice--between one and 100 miles.

A star rating system lets you quickly compare distance, overall ratings, health inspections, staffing and quality ratings among the facilities in your area. You can limit your parameters in one or more ways, for example, by searching for nursing homes that are within a continuing-care retirement community. Click the check boxes for as many as three facilities at a time to compare them side by side.

Click on the name of any facility and get additional information such as the number of certified beds. The site is easy to navigate in order to obtain full reports about health inspections, complaints, staffing, penalties, quality measures and so forth.

Nursing Home Compare is a helpful tool to carefully consider and share with your doctor or other health-care providers. More important: Once you've selected the nursing homes you want to consider, visit each to ask questions, talk with residents and staff  (not just the marketing department), observe how staff interacts with residents, and inspect the latest resident and staff survey results.
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