The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began publicly posting this week, for the first time, health care inspection reports and staffing data for its nursing home system.
To date, VA has posted 101 health inspection reports of its 134 Community Living Centers (CLCs) with the remainder scheduled to be posted by October 2019.
The health care inspection reports, which cover April 2018 to present, are available here: https://www.va.gov/QUALITYOFCARE/apps/aspire/clcsurvey.aspx. In the future, VA will post the reports annually.
The health care inspection reports show that, in comparison with non-VA facilities rated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), VA has a lower number of low-performing facilities (VA: 17.2 percent, non-VA: 19.7 percent) and a higher number of higher-performing facilities (VA: 17.2 percent, non-VA: 10.8 percent).
“Overall, VA’s nursing home system compares closely with private sector nursing homes, though the department on average cares for sicker and more complex patients in its nursing homes than do private facilities,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.
Many VA nursing home residents are being treated for conditions such as prostate obstruction, spinal cord injury, mental illness, homelessness, post-traumatic stress disorder, combat injury, terminal illness and other conditions rarely seen in private nursing homes. In fact, 42 percent of 41,076 VA CLC residents in fiscal 2018 had a service-connected disability rating of 50 percent or higher.
When comparing VA CLCs with private sector nursing homes, the VA CLCs care for more complex Veterans with Veteran-specific conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (11.6 percent vs. 0.5 percent) and traumatic brain injury (1.7 percent vs. 0.8 percent) in addition to the VA CLCs providing more hospice-related care to include hospice care (10.3 percent vs. 3.7 percent), chemotherapy (1.2 percent vs. 0.4 percent) and radiation therapy (1.4 percent vs. 0.1 percent).
Further, the overall star rating for VA’s nursing homes compared with the 15,487 private sector nursing homes rated by the CMS shows that VA has a significantly lower percentage of one-star, or lowest rated, facilities than the rest of the nation. VA’s latest ratings show that only eight, roughly 6 percent, of VA’s nursing homes received an overall one-star rating.
The inspection reports are based on yearly, unannounced inspections conducted by an outside contracted agency. As part of the reports, survey teams look at many aspects of life at VA nursing homes, including:
- The care of residents and the processes used to give that care.
- How the staff and residents interact.
- The nursing home environment.
Surveyors also review residents’ clinical records, interview residents and family members, as well as caregivers and administrative staff.
Information from the US Department of Veterans Affairs.