US News rankings include Sanford, Good Samaritan locations

High performing nursing homes in U.S. News rankings in 2019 include more than 30 locations from the Good Samaritan Society and Sanford Health. But a Society leader suggests the listing is only part of a consumer’s decision-making process.

Related: Connect with our top locations

U.S. News & World Report evaluated more than 15,000 facilities throughout the country on criteria including nursing staff, health inspections, quality measures and processes of care. The data comes from state inspections and scores listed on, the official U.S. government site for Medicare.

Nursing homes are defined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as places for people who can’t be cared for at home, and who need 24-hour nursing care.

Dr. Victoria Walker, vice president, medical services and quality for the Good Samaritan Society, said families should check the rankings as they research when considering nursing home care.

“Those numbers are a good place to start,” she said. “Generally speaking, the rating includes partly how a location performs on surveys, and how well they provide staffing. But they also consider how well we do on quality measures — the different aspects that show how well we take care of people.”

The combination of numbers provides a balanced view of the clinical aspects of nursing home care.

“What’s missing — and it’s a big miss — is that there is no measure of resident satisfaction or family satisfaction,” said Dr. Walker. As an organization, the Good Samaritan Society has been asking CMS to add that component for years.

Surveying satisfaction

In the absence of a government measurement, the Society has surveyed overall satisfaction several years in a row.

“It’s important to know how people feel about the care they are receiving and how staff feel about where they work,” she said.

On a recent visit to a location that ranks lower on the U.S. News scale, Dr. Walker said she talked with residents and staff members about their experiences. More important to both groups was the cleanliness of the facility and the feeling of family.

“If a location is a five-star, that’s a good indication from a balanced view that they are doing a lot of things right,” Dr. Walker said. “It’s still important to talk to staff about what they love about their jobs.”

Three questions to ask when shopping for a nursing home

  1. Can I tour the location? Your in-person experience will have the most influence when making a final decision for yourself or a loved one.
  2. Are the facility’s records open for review? You’ll want to see recent state inspections and CMS rankings, and ask questions of the facility’s leadership.
  3. What do individual staff members love about their jobs? Dr. Walker said consumers will learn critical information about the facility through candid conversations.

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