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Glossary, Resources, and Methodologies

The Following page provides definitions for commonly used senior care terms as well as the methodologies for the ratings provided by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

SNF Terms and Definitions
Aggregate RatingAggregate ratings on our site are a combination of the overall CMS ratings added and averaged.
Average CostOur average cost numbers are provided to give a general idea of what one may expect to be charged per day at the SNF/NF. They are only estimates to be used as a reference and are not verified.
Average StayOur average length of stay numbers are derived by reports the facility provides to the government.
CMSCMS stands for The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services which is a federal agency designed to run and manage Medicare and Medicaid.
Critical Access HospitalA CAH is a smaller facility usually in rural areas.
Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)OCCRCs typically provide care ranging from apartments residents live in independently, to assisted living, to full-time care as their needs require. This type of care is usually rather expensive relative to other options and typically requires a substantial downpayment and monthly fees.
Custodial CareEmployees who help with activities like bathing, eating, getting dressed etc. Typically Medicare does not cover this.
Durable Medical EquipmentWalkers, wheelchairs, hospital beds, etc.
End-Stage Renal DiseaseComplete kidney failure that requires dialysis or a transplant.
Fire Safety DeficiencyThe nursing home failed to meet one or more of the Federal fire safety requirements
Full-Time Employee (FTE) defines FTE as Full-time employees that work at least 30 hours per week combined with the total number of part-time employee hours divided by thirty. For example: if 3 part time employees worked a total of 60 hours they would count as two (60/30) full-time employees.
Health DeficiencyDuring the annual inspection the nursing home was cited for not meeting one or more of the Federal health requirments.
Home Health AgencyHome health agencies provide both medical and non-medical support in the patient's home for those not in need of a skilled nursing facility/nursing home.
HospiceHospices are designed to help with the many physical and emotional stresses created when yourself or a family member is terminally ill.
Inpatient Prospective Payment SystemFacilities that have a contract with Medicare to provide care at a predetermined amount that is considered to be paid in full.
Living WillStates your wishes in regards to life-support and other medical decisions that you can not make at the time.
LTCTypically stands for long-term care. Long-term care is there to help with both medical and non-medical needs of clients who can not care for themselves for extended periods of time.
MedicaidA federal and state-run program that assists with medical costs for those with limited resources.
MedicareThe federal health care program for seniors (as well as some younger qualifying people).
Medigap PolicPrivate insurance designed to fill gaps in your Medicare coverage.
Number of Certified BedsThe total number of beds available for Medicare/Medicaid members. Some nursing homes may have a combination of private and certified beds.
Nursing HomeCan be either a Skilled Nursing Facility or a Nursing Facility. Nursing Facilities participate in Medicaid while Skilled Nursing Facilities participate in both Medicare and Medicaid.
Occupational TherapyOccupational therapy is designed to help you return to your normal daily activities like bathing, cooking, cleaning, and so on.
OmbudsmanIn this setting an ombudsman is usually an intermediary who investigates complaints by residents and family members.
Physical TherapyPhysical therapy treats an injury or disease through various methods like exercise, massage, and light treatments.
PodiatristA podiatrist is a doctor specialized in issues concerning the feet (Foot doctor).
Preventive ServicesPreventive health care designed to prevent or detect illness at an early stage so that treatment can be as effective as possible.
Resident and Family CouncilsCouncils are designed to help assist communications between residents and family members with the staff and ownership.
Skilled Nursing FacilitySkilled nursing facilities typically are able to provide additional rehabilitative including physical and occupational therapy.
Special Focus FacilitySome nursing homes have a history of failing to meet required levels of care and become special focus facilities until they correct their issues.
Total Number of ResidentsWhile this number will always be changing, it is currently captured during the 3 weeks before the most recent inspection.
Overall Rating Methodology

CMS Decides the Overall Rating as follows:

  • Take the Health Inspection Rating.
  • Add one star if the Staffing Rating is 4+ stars and higher than the Health Inspection Rating. Subtract a star if it is a 1.
  • Add one star if the Quality Rating is 5 stars. Subtract a star if it is a 1.
  • If the Health Inspection rating is 1 star then the maximum Overall Rating possible is a 2.
  • If it is a Special Focus Facility then the maximum Overall Rating is a 3.
  • Approximately 28% of nursing homes nationally received a 5 star Overall Rating.
  • Only 1.3% of nursing homes nationally received 5 stars in all categories