Medicare website now includes nursing home ratings, complaints

Last year, Beverly Rowe faced a difficult future. Her husband survived a stroke but needed care from a nursing home. She researched and toured facilities before making a choice.

"I needed to make a decision on where he was going to go," she said. "That choice looked wonderful, but it turned out the help was not good and my husband took a fall and got a cut on his head after one week." 

After that, she brought her husband to Sarasota Memorial Nursing and Rehab Center. It's the only hospital in Florida to achieve the federal government's highest 5-star rating since 2016. 

"We got it rectified immediately. Now we would go nowhere else," said Rowe. 

Across the country, families face the difficult task of selecting a nursing home for loved ones. The best place to start is the website, where you can find reviews of 16,000 nursing homes across the nation. 

Ratings are based on staff-to-patient ratios, emergency visits, and discharges. 

A red hand icon will catch your attention. The newly designed icon was designed to get website visitors to stop and give them a quick glance of violations, including abuse or neglect. 

"It's a new way for consumers to quickly identify a facility that might have some issues," said Paula Cunningham, the director of nursing at Sarasota Memorial Nursing and Rehab Center. 

She said you can't judge a facility on looks. 

"There are many facilities who present themselves as the Taj Mahal. They’re clean. They’re bright, their beautiful building, but a beautiful building doesn't necessarily indicate that the care that’s being given is the same," said Cunningham. 

She urges families to start with the website and to do outside homework on a facility's past. 

"That is not information that you would know just from a brief tour," she said. 

To find out a nursing home's rating visit.