New federal data on nursing homes shows below or well below ratings for some Heartland facilities.
Medicare.gov released a new ratings system for Medicare or Medicaid certified nursing facilities nationwide.
The evaluation takes into account health inspections, staffing hours and residents' well-being.
It is based on a five star system with five being the best and three being average.
A Heartland News data analysis found a large percentage of evaluated homes in the KFVS12 viewing area fell below average.
Here is the percentage of homes that received one or two stars by state:
Long term care specialist Jan McFerron said online research should only be part of the decision.
"The most important thing they can do is to go there," she said.
McFerron works as the long term care ombudsman director for Aging Matters and deals with nursing home issues frequently. She has some suggestions on what people should watch out for before choosing a home.
"They need to ask themselves how does it smell, how does the staff treat me, how do they treat the residence," McFerron said.
She said it is important to keep in mind nursing home residents are just that.
"When they move in it becomes their home," she said. "The staff works in the resident's home."
And finding the best fit the first time can pay off down the road.
"When they can get used to their surroundings then they seem to be much happier," McFerron said.
Find out how a nursing home near you ranks here.
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