Learn & Grow/Health & Wellness/What Is the CMS 5-Star Rating for Nursing Homes and Why Does it Matter?
Health & Wellness, Skilled Nursing

What Is the CMS 5-Star Rating for Nursing Homes and Why Does it Matter?

As you begin researching senior living communities, it’s important to understand that not every community is created equally. Apart from exploring a senior living community’s overall lifestyle and the amenities or services they may offer, you’ll also need to consider the quality of care you’ll receive should you need it. Whether you’re starting out in independent living or need additional support from assisted living, choosing a highly-rated community pays dividends. But how do you know which communities offer the best care?

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) developed the CMS rating system to help compare the quality of senior health services across skilled nursing centers. A CMS 5-star rating is the highest “grade” a skilled nursing community can earn. While the overall system is certainly a convenient way for seniors and their families to quickly evaluate senior health services, it’s important to know the individual factors on which skilled nursing providers are evaluated. Here, we’ll examine the deeper implications behind a CMS rating and how medicare nursing home ratings can help you make an informed decision for your care.

CMS Rating System | Overview

Only senior healthcare centers that qualify as “skilled” are eligible for CMS certification. Physical and occupational therapy, catheter care, IV injections, and wound care are all examples of skilled care. This care must be provided by licensed health professionals such as registered nurses (RNs) and physical, occupational, and speech therapists.

The simplified 5-star, CMS nursing home ratings are determined after a close examination of the following:

Health Inspections

Reports from the three most recent annual state inspections and complaint investigations that may have occurred within the last three years. These include health inspections, fire safety inspections, and health code penalties.


The number of hours each resident receives care from a skilled nursing staff member and the total amount of hours staff members work directly with individual residents.

Quality Measures (QMs)

Quality of care for each resident is assessed by the skilled care provider based on 17 different physical and clinical measures for each resident’s needs.

Each of the health inspection, staffing, quality of care, and claims are assessed and given an individual star rating. These individual ratings are then combined to produce the overall star rating, which is typically one of the first reference points for seniors researching Medicare nursing services.

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Going Beyond the Surface of CMS Star Ratings

A CMS 5-star nursing home rating means that the community is a reliable, high-quality community in the minds of potential residents. And while that’s an accomplishment within itself, there’s more to CMS ratings than just the stars.

Looking at each factor’s rating and the reasons behind it can help you understand the level of quality care a senior living community offers. For example, when looking at a 5-star nursing home rating score for the Staffing category, you’ll want to take note of things like how many registered nurses (RNs) are on staff compared to how many nurse aides. You’ll also want to consider how many hours a nurse aide spends with a resident compared to an RN. These considerations could help you choose which community or nursing home is right for you.

CMS rates Quality Measures on 17 values to create three Quality of Resident Care ratings: short-stay, long-stay, and overall quality measure ratings. Depending on the level of care you or your loved one might need, reviewing these three Quality of Resident Care ratings could be vastly more important than the overall rating. How to determine a nursing home 5-star rating and more information can be found on the Nursing Home Compare website from Medicare.gov, which includes important information from more than 15,000 nursing homes and senior living communities in the country.

5-Star Senior Living Care at Querencia

Of all Texas nursing home ratings from CMS, Querencia at Barton Creek is one of the few elite to earn a 5-star overall rating. We’ve earned a CMS 5-star rating in short-stay, long-stay, and overall quality measure ratings in the Quality of Resident Care category.

This rating has only strengthened our resolve to deliver the highest-quality care to residents at any level of our full continuum of care. Our independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation services are designed to deliver a comprehensive spectrum of care other communities can’t provide. You can learn more about our exceptional-level care and the value Querencia offers now on our Health Services page. Ready to start your 5-star senior living journey? Get in touch today or schedule a tour.

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