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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Family members rate Mass. nursing homes highly

By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff

Nine out of 10 families that have a relative living in a Massachusetts nursing home would recommend the facility to other relatives and friends, according to a state survey released today.

The survey, which was conducted from February through April and drew nearly 21,000 responses, gave nursing homes good grades in categories ranging from the quality of staff to the quality of food. When asked to rate their overall satisfaction with their relatives' nursing home, family members on average gave scores above 4 (satisfied) on a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied).

The Massachusetts Legislature ordered that the Department of Public Health conduct the survey as a way of measuring quality in the state's roughly 450 nursing homes, which have about 42,000 residents. The survey was first conducted on a more limited basis in 2005, and this year for the first time, it applied to all nursing homes.

About 60 percent of families who were sent surveys completed them. Among six specific categories evaluated, staff fared best, winning high marks for delivering medication on time and respecting cultural and ethnic differences.

Scores were reported separately for facilities that participated in the earlier survey and those that were evaluated for the first time this year. Among facilities being graded for the second time, staff in 2007 received a satisfaction score of 4.19, essentially identical to the earlier mark. Staff at facilities participating for the first time in the survey received a score of 4.11.

The lowest marks were in the activities category, which includes recreation and religious services, ranging between 3.75 and 3.86.

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