The Brown University Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research has launched a new nursing home comparison website designed for professional nursing home researches, but which is readily accessible to consumers, advocates and administrators. Whereas the Medicare Nursing Home Comparison site compares survey data collected from each state, Brown University’s new site, LTCfocus.org, supported in part by the National Institute on Aging, crunches data from a variety of sources:
- State Policy Data – Brown University research team survey
- Online Survey Certification and Reporting system (OSCAR) – administrative data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
- Minimum Data Set (MDS) – resident level data related to clinical and functional status
- Area Resource File (ARF) – a national county level health resources database maintained by the Health Resources and Services Administration
- Residential History File – a data resources developed at Brown University that tracks individuals as they move across the long-term care system
It’s an interactive database that lets the user create tables and charts to compare information about individual nursing homes, counties, states, etc. There is a wide range of variables accessible for comparison allowing greater research capabilities. Those variables include:
- for-profit versus non-profit organizational structure
- bed capacity
- percentage of Medicare and Medicaid approved beds
- Alzheimer’s specific units
- occupancy rates
- age ranges
- resident gender and race statistics
- staffing levels
- MDS quality measures
- resident admission sources (home or hospital)
- 30-day re-hospitalization rates
According to the LTCfocus.org site:
These data will allow researchers to examine the relationship between state policies and local market forces and the quality of long-term care. Researchers can use this website to examine care processes and resident outcomes within the context of their local markets and regulatory practices. Policymakers can use the information to shape state and local guidelines, policies, and regulations that promote high-quality, cost-effective, equitable care to older Americans.
They have plans to add additional information about other sectors of the long-term care industry at a future date.
Individuals looking to use the database to compare local nursing homes for purposes of long-term care decision making will find the site a bit cumbersome to navigate, but the savvy user should have no problem. The more likely impact for consumer-level decision making will be the downstream effects improved information sharing made available to policy makers and elder advocates. Consumers will likely still find Medicare’s Nursing Home Comparison site to be the most useful and straightforward. Contacting their Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (contact information available through the Resources by State page) is an even consumer-friendlier method to gather information on area nursing homes.