Nursing Home Selection: How Do Consumers Choose? Volume II: Findings from the Website Content Review

12/01/2006

Lisa R. Shugarman and Rena Garland

RAND Corporation

December 2006

PDF Version


This report was prepared under contract #HHS-100-03-0023 between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Disability, Aging and Long-Term Care Policy (DALTCP) and the RAND Corporation. For additional information about this subject, you can visit the DALTCP home page at http://aspe.hhs.gov/_/office_specific/daltcp.cfm or contact the ASPE Project Officer, Linda Bergofsky, at HHS/ASPE/DALTCP, Room 424E, H.H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201. Her e-mail addresses is: Linda.Bergofsky@hhs.gov.

The opinions and views expressed in this report are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Health and Human Services, the contractor or any other funding organization.



TABLE OF CONTENTS

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
I. BACKGROUND
II. METHODS
A. State Selection Process
B. Selection of Websites with a National Focus
C. Structure of Content Review
III. FINDINGS
A. Accessibility
B. Findings from Web Content Review
C. Navigability of Websites
D. Website Functionality
IV. SUMMARY
V. IMPLICATIONS OF FOCUS GROUP FINDINGS FOR INTERNET RESOURCES
VI. REFERENCES
NOTES
APPENDICES
APPENDIX A: Characteristics of Candidate States for Content Review and Focus Groups
APPENDIX B: Websites Included in the Content Review
APPENDIX C: Data Elements for Abstraction for Selected Websites
APPENDIX D: Results of Accessibility Testing
APPENDIX E: Summary of Website Content
APPENDIX F: Quality Indicators and Quality Measures
APPENDIX G: Summary Data on Website Functionality Analysis
APPENDIX H: Website Description Summaries


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

More than a million elders enter a nursing facility each year, yet little is known about how consumers of skilled and long-term nursing care select the facility to which they or their loved ones will be admitted. Many members of the Baby Boomer generation are currently faced with long-term care (LTC) decisions for their parents, and those on the leading edge of the generation will soon be dealing with these issues themselves. The aging of the population points to the increasing need for useful and reliable information resources available to consumers about their health and social care options, including nursing homes. There are numerous resources available to the public to support the decision-making process through federal and state governments as well as private sources. However, there is some skepticism both about the ability of elders and their families to understand and translate that information into a decision, and about whether the information available is relevant to the decision-making process. While these resources are widely available through the Internet, phone, and in print, there is little information about if and how they are used to support the decision-making process.

The purpose of this study, commissioned by the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), Department of Health and Human Services, was to use qualitative methods to: (1) systematically review the existence and accessibility of Internet-based resources intended to support the decision to enter a nursing facility and select the appropriate facility for one’s needs and preferences; (2) examine how consumers select a nursing home; (3) explore if and how existing information resources are used in the decision-making process; and (4) identify gaps in needed information resources.

The goal of this report is to present a review of a subset of the Internet sites that may be used to inform a consumer’s selection of a nursing facility. As part of this content review, we reviewed 29 websites; 13 websites were national in scope and 16 were state-specific. The following states were considered in our search for and review of websites: California, Iowa, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Maryland.

Approach and Methods

To identify and examine the accessibility of consumer information on nursing home selection, an Internet search was conducted for information resources on nursing home selection and the accessibility of the sites and the information they provided were examined. We selected six states for the review of state-specific website content by balancing three considerations: perceived depth of information resources in each state (i.e., “information rich” or “information poor”), logistical feasibility for holding follow-up focus groups, and variation in state demography (i.e., age of population, racial diversity, and urban/rural mix). The states selected were California, Iowa, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and Maryland.

Internet sites selected for review were based on an initial set of websites with a national focus identified by ASPE. Additional websites were identified using popular Internet search engines (e.g., Google, Yahoo, MSN). State-specific websites were identified through the state resource links from the Medicare.gov site as well as those cited in a recent review of state-specific websites published in the peer-reviewed literature (Castle 2003). We reviewed all sites for accessibility (e.g., how easily they could be identified using common search terms) and navigability (e.g., how easily one might be able to find relevant resources on the site). We also considered how the websites were designed to enhance accessibility for viewers with disabilities using a web-based diagnostic tool that can identify problems with the functionality of those websites. Finally, the content readability of each site was measured to determine how accessible the information on the site might be to different literacy levels. Finally, we described the contents of the selected websites, including the types of educational information provided, languages in which information is available and specific descriptive information about facilities that is available on the site, in addition to other characteristics.

Findings from Website Content Review

In total, we reviewed 29 websites; 13 websites were national in scope and 16 were state-specific. Most of the websites we reviewed included some type of descriptive information about nursing homes. The most commonly included descriptive characteristics were type of ownership, Medicare/Medicaid certification, number of beds, presence of special care or dementia units, and provision of special services or activities; with respect to content, few differences were observed between the state-specific and the national sites. Four national websites and six of the state-specific websites provided any form of quality information. About one-third of sites provided a mechanism to compare facilities. Every site provided some educational materials/resources. Just over half of the sites included instructions on how to search for a nursing facility; this information varied in content and quality; some provided portable document files (PDFs) that consumers could print out and take with them, while others provided more cursory information. Over two-thirds of the sites provided some form of a nursing home checklist that consumers could use as they visit facilities. Approximately 60 percent of the sites provided some information about how to pay for LTC. Over a third of the sites included information about residents’ rights, and over 70 percent included information on ombudsmen programs. Finally, 75 percent included links to other state resources and most included links to Nursing Home Compare.

In general, all of the Internet searches conducted as part of our assessment of the accessibility of most sites produced useful websites, regardless of the search terms used; “Finding a nursing home” or “Finding a nursing facility,” which may be the most commonly used search terms, produced a number of relevant websites. Most of the documents/websites we selected for the test of navigability were easily found. However, many of the sites reviewed had structural problems that affected their functionality, such as “broken” web links and graphics that did not have appropriate alternative text to aid those with various disabilities in reviewing their content. About one-quarter of sites were available in a language other than English. In addition, most content was found to be at the college reading level, far higher than the average reading level of the public (Kirsch, Jungeblut et al. 1993; National Center for Education Statistics 2003).

Summary and Conclusions

This content review summarizes the information for a set of Internet resources that may be useful in supporting a consumer’s selection of a nursing facility or a caregiver’s selection of a facility for a loved one. The review was not intended to be comprehensive; however the sites reviewed here represent most of the sites with a national focus and state-specific sites for the states considered in our review. At the end of this report, we provide a synthesis of findings from the focus group findings reported in a separate volume of this report (Shugarman and Brown 2006) with the findings from the web content review. In the companion volume of this report, we propose a set of actionable items and areas for future research that may result in information resources that better match the needs of consumers seeking a nursing home and improve their accessibility as well.


I. BACKGROUND

More than a million elders enter a nursing facility each year, yet little is known about how consumers of skilled and long-term nursing care select the facility to which they or their loved ones will be admitted. Many members of the Baby Boomer generation are currently faced with long-term care (LTC) decisions for their parents, and those at the forefront of the generation will soon be dealing with these issues themselves. These consumers need access to useful and reliable information resources about LTC.

Private sources, non-governmental organizations and federal and state governments have made numerous resources available to the public to support the decision-making process. Currently, little is known about how well the available electronic resources support consumer decision-making around nursing home selection. This report provides insight into this issue, presenting a detailed summary of a review of Internet-based resources intended to support the decision to enter a nursing facility and select the appropriate facility for one’s needs and preferences. This web content review is part of a larger project in which qualitative methods are also being used to examine how consumers select a nursing home, to explore if and how existing information resources are used in the decision-making process, and to identify gaps in needed information resources.


II. METHODS

A. State Selection Process

We selected six states to be included in the state-specific website content review: California, Iowa, Ohio, Florida, Maryland, and Virginia. We selected these states by balancing three considerations: (1) perceived depth of Internet resources; (2) feasibility for follow-up focus groups; and (3) state demography.

  1. Perceived depth of Internet resources: We grouped states based on perceived availability of LTC information on the Internet. To develop hypotheses about states in these groups, we interviewed experts in nursing home care, including the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) staff, considered the literature describing other reviews of relevant LTC websites and reviewed the Nursing Home Compare links to state resources. We then proceeded to identify states that were considered “resource rich” or “resource poor” with regard to LTC information on the Internet (which may not be consonant with the availability of non-Internet resources).

  2. Feasibility for follow-up focus groups: We sought to identify states with a sufficient number of facilities located within a reasonable distance of the location where we might hold a focus group (generally a larger metropolitan area of the state), with a local area that is in close proximity to a RAND facility for conducting the focus groups, and where RAND has a prior relationship with the state or a local area within the state and/or familiarity with providers/LTC users in the state. In addition, at least one state needed to be in close proximity to Washington, DC in order to allow ASPE to observe a focus group. To that end, we included Maryland and Virginia to reflect the greater Washington, DC metropolitan area.

  3. State demography: We attempted to identify states that had a large number of potential or actual LTC users (i.e., percent of population age 65 and older), substantial racial diversity, and a good mix of highly urbanized or rural locations within the state (where we might conduct the focus groups). We used Census data to evaluate the states and locations for site visits by these characteristics.

The states/regions we have identified are listed Appendix A along with the relevant descriptive criteria. From this list of states, we selected four states in which to conduct focus groups, which are described in the companion volume of this report (Shugarman and Brown 2006).

Appendix B.1 lists the state-specific websites included in the content review based on our selection of states described above. In total, we identified 16 state-specific sites for review. The review by Castle and Lowe (2005) included a directory of the state provided websites for each of the 50 states which we used in addition to the CMS Nursing Home Compare website (2005) to help guide our selection of websites for review. Additional websites were identified by conducting a search using popular search engines (e.g., Google, Yahoo, MSN).

B. Selection of Websites with a National Focus

Appendix B.2 provides a list of websites with a national focus that may support consumer decision-making around the selection of a nursing home. The websites listed in the first section of this table are those that were provided by ASPE; the second section of the table lists five additional websites that, in consultation with ASPE and others, we added to the list. With one exception (HealthGrades), all of these sites are publicly available without a fee.1

C. Structure of Content Review

We reviewed three general issues on each website: accessibility, content, and readability of content. We defined accessibility in two ways: (1) as the ability to find useful and relevant resources on the Internet using usual search terms; and (2) as the ability to view a site even with visual or other impairments, easily navigate a website that one felt might be relevant (i.e., be able to find the items on the website one is interested in locating), and comprehend the materials that were presented on that site. We applied two methods to evaluate accessibility. First, we used common search terms (described below) to explore the extent to which usual Internet search procedures could identify relevant websites. Second, we examined the accessibility of the specific websites listed in the tables above based on their navigability, functionality and readability. We explored how easy or difficult it might be for a website visitor to access specific documents or webpages. We also considered how the websites were designed to enhance accessibility for viewers with disabilities using a web-based diagnostic tool that can identify problems with the functionality of those websites. Readability of each site was measured to determine how accessible the information on the site might be to different literacy levels. The methods we used to derive these measures of accessibility and the description of the review of the web contents are described in more detail below.

C.1. Ascertaining Accessibility

The project team was interested in knowing what resources a consumer would find if he/she were to refer to the Internet for support in selecting a nursing facility. Approximately 83 percent of all searches are conducted on one of three search engines: Google, Yahoo, or MSN (Search Engine Watch 2004). Project staff identified a set of relevant terms or phrases as a first step to better understand what resources one might find by doing a search using these search engines. The following selected search terms are those that we believed would be commonly used by an individual in search of information about nursing homes and the terms that will be used in this effort:

  • “find a nursing home/facility”;
  • “nursing home search”;
  • “nursing home quality”;
  • “nursing home comparisons”;
  • “long-term care facility”.

We considered the use of the search term “post-acute care” however, consultation with project staff with clinical expertise lead us to the decision to exclude this term as it was not likely to be a search term that the average consumer might use to refer to nursing facility care. The term “post-acute care” is more commonly used in clinical and policy settings but not usually among the general population. This decision has subsequently been supported by our finding from consumer focus groups that consumers rarely distinguish among different LTC providers (e.g., post-acute care, skilled nursing facility, nursing home, rehabilitation, etc.) (Shugarman and Brown 2006). We originally included “residential care” as an additional search phrase but the search consistently returned lists of websites referring to drug rehabilitation programs and so we removed this search term from further consideration.

We entered combinations of selected search terms or phrases into each of the three commonly used search engines. State-specific searches for the five candidate states listed above were also conducted by including the selected search terms or phrases and the state name as well. We only report the state-specific results based on the search using the Google search engine. The first ten search results for each combination of search terms in each search engine were printed out and examined.

We first identified the total number of relevant websites for each set of search results (a total of ten sites). We defined as “relevant” those sites that included the search terms of interest (e.g., “nursing home search”) either in the link title or the summary text found immediately below the link title. We further excluded as irrelevant any websites that described activities or resources available outside of the United States. We then identified and counted the total number of relevant websites that had a national focus (for the search with a national focus, i.e., excluding state-specific websites that were listed in the national search) or the total number of websites that were state-specific (for the state-specific search, i.e., excluding websites that did not include any mention of the specific state of interest). We summarized the data by search terms and by search engines. The summary data presented later in this report describe the number of appropriate “hits” a consumer might find when conducting a search.

C.2. Describing Website Content

We described the content of the websites selected for this deliverable. Appendix C presents the selected data elements that were extracted from each website. We only present the summary of these reviews in this report; the individual website review results are available in Appendix H. The data elements included in the content review were derived in collaboration with the project team, with additional contributions from ASPE. These included items that were commonly used to describe nursing facilities (e.g., bed size, staffing, certification status, etc.) as well as functional characteristics that might better facilitate nursing home selection (e.g., a searchable database). Most of this portion of the review was completed by one team member (RG) however, the project leader (LS) and RG worked together to ensure that data were collected consistently. Both team members completed reviews of several websites and then compared results. The consultation resulted in a modification of the data collection sheet and ensured that the data would be more reliably collected. It is important to note here that we did not, as part of this effort, attempt to validate the information presented on the websites we reviewed (e.g., about specific facilities and their characteristics) against any other source.

C.3. Navigability of the Websites

For the selected list of websites we reviewed in this effort, we examined how easily one might navigate the site to find relevant information. We tracked how deeply into the website one must delve (i.e., how many links one must click on) before finding specific nursing home resources commonly found on these websites (Castle and Lowe 2005). The specific resources we searched for were: guides to finding a nursing home (or other related educational documents, such as a nursing home checklist), information on LTC financing (or the options for paying for nursing home care), links to facility-specific information (including Nursing Home Compare), and resident rights information (including ombudsman information).

C.4. Website Functionality

We also characterized the websites by commonly used measures of accessibility. Each website was scanned using a tool made available by Watchfire, an online resource for measuring the quality and accessibility of web pages on multiple domains (Watchfire 2005). The websites were evaluated using the Level Triple-A Conformance to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (Chisolm, Vanderheiden et al. 1999). In total, there are 14 guidelines, or general principles of accessible web design. These guidelines provide an explanation for making web content accessible to people with disabilities. Each guideline has a set of checkpoint definitions. Each checkpoint is associated with a priority level. Priority one checkpoints are required; if they are not satisfied, some or all of the web content will not be accessible. Priority two checkpoints are not required but should be satisfied or some groups will have difficulty in accessing web information. Priority three checkpoints are also optional but adherence to these guidelines are desirable as without them, some groups may have some difficulty in accessing web information. Being compliant with all checkpoints across priority levels would likely ensure that the website in question was accessible to most individuals with disabilities and which are aligned with federal guidelines.2

The following are the accessibility characteristics we report from each of the selected websites:

  • web links are still active (i.e., no “broken” links);
  • appropriate labeling of tables/graphics (i.e., appropriate use of alternative text for those with low vision);
  • appropriate text and background color contrast (also for those with low vision); and
  • using relative sizing and positioning codes (in order to accommodate different viewing devices and need for larger font sizes).

There are no implied or explicit priorities among those listed here -- all have been identified as important to the accessibility of the web contents to all individuals, but particularly those with disabilities. The following were only reported as errors as these characteristics are either present or they are not: no “broken” links and using relative sizing and position codes. The guideline related to appropriate text and background color contrast is only reported as a warning; because of the way the software reviews the site, it is likely that confirmation of appropriate contrast requires manual review. We report here the number of errors as well as the number of warnings where relevant.3

Each website was also evaluated for readability. We ascertained the reading grade level of these websites using the Fry Readability Graph (FRG) method (Fry 1969, 1977). Three sample passages from each of the selected websites were extracted from the beginning, middle, and end of the website page (if there are multiple pages to a website, we selected passages from the first page and from each of two other links available from the first page). Each passage was exactly 100 words in length. For each passage, the number of sentences and syllables was counted and then averaged across the three passages. The FRG method was then used to translate this average into a reading grade level for each website.


III. FINDINGS

A. Accessibility

In order for a potential nursing home consumer to use the Internet to support their selection of a nursing home, they must first be able to correctly identify the most useful websites for this task. In this section we describe the results of a search for relevant websites using selected search terms described previously in the three most popular search engines: Google, Yahoo, and MSN. We first conducted a national search. We entered each set of search terms into each search engine and examined the first ten sites listed in the search results. A website was deemed relevant if the search terms were all included in the title or the brief text below each title in the search results and if the site was developed for consumers in the United States. From the set of relevant sites, we then counted the total number of sites that were not state-specific. We excluded state-specific sites from this count since consumers may reside in a state not present in the search results. Summary tables can be found in Appendix D.

The best search terms for producing the most relevant sites were “Finding a nursing facility” and “Nursing home quality”; both sets of search terms produced, on average, 9.7 relevant sites out of ten possible sites. Although “Nursing home quality” produced relevant search results (defined by the presence of those search terms in the web link title or text immediately following the web link), further review of the sites included among the first ten listed suggests that these sites would not be as useful in aiding the nursing home selection process. Most of these sites referred to articles on nursing home quality or to general information about CMS’s Nursing Home Quality Initiative (NHQI) but generally did not include resources specifically relevant to support a consumer’s selection of a nursing facility. “Finding a nursing home” produced 8.3 relevant sites out of ten on average. “Long-term care facility” produced the fewest relevant sites, with an average of six. The Google and Yahoo search engines produced more relevant searches than did MSN, averaging 8.7 relevant sites each vs. 7.0, respectively.

The state-specific search results produced fewer total relevant sites, on average (6.7 relevant sites vs. 8.1 for the national review), although the pattern of findings across search terms was similar to that for the national search. After narrowing the review to sites that were state-specific (e.g., eliminating all sites that were of a national focus or relevant to a different state than the state in question), the Iowa search produced the most relevant sites with 7.3 sites, on average, followed closely by California (7.2 state-specific relevant sites on average). The Maryland search produced the fewest relevant sites with an average of 3.3 sites identified across search terms.

B. Findings from Web Content Review

We reviewed a total of 29 websites; 13 were national in focus and 16 were state-specific websites. Five of the state-specific sites were from California, three from Florida and two each were from Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, and Maryland. We reviewed the websites and organized their characteristics into seven different domains: reach of the website, membership requirements, descriptive information provided about the nursing homes listed, information about the directory of facilities (if provided), quality information (if provided), and educational materials. In total, we collected information on 52 different characteristics. Appendix E presents a summary of the characteristics of these websites, and then displays the characteristics separately for the national and state-focused sites. The results of the individual reviews can be found in the appendix to this report (Appendix H).

Overall, about one-third of the sites reviewed required some form of membership in order to view or access the information in some other way. Of the nine sites that required membership, eight of them required membership from providers only and membership was generally required so that provider information would be included in the database of facilities. Only two sites required membership from the consumer; on one site, consumers became members but were not charged a fee to sign up and on the other site, there was a modest fee associated with accessing the site’s database to search for facilities ($9.95 for a report on up to ten facilities).

Just over one-quarter of the sites were available in a language other than English. Five of the eight sites made their information available in Spanish only and three other sites made information available in several languages including (in addition to Spanish) Chinese, Dutch, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and German.

Most of the sites included some type of descriptive information about nursing homes. Half of the sites with a national focus and nine out of fifteen of the sites with a state focus provided some descriptive information. The most commonly included descriptive characteristics were type of ownership, Medicare/Medicaid certification, bed size of the facility, the presence of special care units, and whether the facilities provide special services or activities (i.e., ventilator care, dialysis, etc.). There were few large differences between the state and national sites in terms of the types of descriptive information provided with two exceptions; the state sites were much more likely to present information on the presence of special care units and special services or activities than were the sites with a national focus.

Almost two-thirds of the sites provided a searchable database of nursing homes on their sites. The databases on sites with a national focus could be searched by state and most could be searched also by county, city, and/or zip code. Three national sites also allowed the consumer to search by facility name and one allowed searches by area code. State-specific websites could be searched by similar means, but far more allowed a search by facility name. Of those that provided such a database, all of them included the facility’s name and all but one included the facility address in the search results. Fifteen of the seventeen sites also provided facility phone numbers. A smaller number of state sites provided facility electronic mail addresses and/or facility website addresses. None of the sites with a national focus included these two additional pieces of information.

Four national websites and six of the state-specific websites provided any form of quality information. Only one site, the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC), included Quality Indicators4 and a total of four sites included Quality Measures5 (which are posted on Nursing Home Compare) in their site search results (see Appendix F for a list of the specific Quality Measures and Quality Indicators used in this report): Nursing Home Compare, Myziva.net, Member of the Family, and the MHCC (note: the Ohio Department of Aging refers consumers to Nursing Home Compare to obtain this information). The most common form of quality information presented was derived from annual survey reports of deficiencies. Just over one-third of all sites provided deficiency information, which included the number and type of deficiencies. All but one of these facilities also included the severity of the deficiencies in their reports.

About one-third of all sites that provided a directory of facilities provided a mechanism for comparing facilities during the search process. All of these sites included the capacity to compare facilities to other facilities and to the state average and two of the national sites also enabled comparisons to the national average.

Every site reviewed provided some sort of educational materials/resources. Just over one-half of the sites included instructions on how to search for a nursing facility. This information ranged in content and quality; some provided portable document files (PDFs) that the consumer could print out and take with them, while others provided only cursory information. Over two-thirds of the sites provided some form of a nursing home checklist that consumers could use as they visit facilities. These checklists provided a list of things to look for when visiting the facility and often included questions that consumers could ask of the facility staff during the visit. Approximately 60 percent of the sites provided some information about how to pay for LTC; generally they described the different payor sources care provided in a nursing home (i.e., self-pay, Medicare, Medicaid). Over a third of the sites included information about residents’ rights and over 70 percent included information on ombudsmen programs. While some websites may not have had their own searchable facility database, many provided links to Nursing Home Compare. The most commonly provided resources were links from the websites we reviewed to state resources. Over 75 percent of nationally focused websites and all of the state-specific websites provided links to other state resources.

B.1. State-Specific Summaries

California. We reviewed four websites from the State of California including the following agencies/organizations: California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), the California Department of Aging, the California Department of Health Services Licensing and Certification, and California Care Network, a website funded by the state to help the consumer find state-licensed health and social services. The CANHR website was the most comprehensive of the four sites reviewed, and it was, in fact, one of the most comprehensive of the 28 sites reviewed. This site provided a searchable database of facilities, including eleven facility characteristics plus additional information about each facility’s last licensing/certification visit, last change of ownership, occupancy rates, and staff wages among others. The other three sites reviewed were all government sites. None provided a searchable database of facilities however, each provided educational information such as information on residents’ rights, ombudsmen information, how to find a nursing home, nursing home checklists, and links to other resources.

Iowa. We reviewed two websites from the State of Iowa: one comes from the Iowa Department of Elder Affairs and the other comes from the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, Health Facilities Division. The Elder Affairs site is a comprehensive site addressing issues pertinent to older adults, with the exception of nursing homes and LTC. It is one of the few sites available in multiple languages (eight in all, including English). Much of the resources provided on this site focus on community-based care, rather than institutional care. It does however include some limited information about residents’ rights and the ombudsman program and links to other state resources. The Department of Inspections does include a searchable database of facilities but, given its regulatory and licensing role, the database reports on deficiencies and citations and provides little descriptive information about the facilities (bed size is the only facility characteristic included in the database). The site also provides information about how to find a nursing home and links the consumer to Nursing Home Compare as well as other state resources.

Florida. The Florida websites we reviewed came from the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA, a state affiliate of the American Health Care Association (AHCA)), Floridahealthstat, a data repository for the State of Florida located in the Agency for Health Care Administration, and the Florida AHCA Nursing Home Guide, a state website geared to consumers. All three sites provide searchable databases on nursing facilities but the Nursing Home Guide provides the most comprehensive set of facility characteristics in its database. It is also the only site of the three that is available in Spanish. None of the sites provide quality information but the Floridahealthstat and Nursing Home Guide sites include information on deficiencies. The Nursing Home Guide also includes a ranking of facilities according to the number of deficiencies reported and allows for the consumer to compare facilities within the same region based on these rankings. All three sites provide educational materials for the consumer, links to Nursing Home Compare, and links to other state resources. All three sites are very consumer-oriented but serve different purposes. The Floridahealthstat site reports not just on nursing facilities so the information available on LTC is somewhat limited, but they do provide a link to the Nursing Home Guide for more information. The FHCA site includes a Family Forum section, presenting useful information for consumers but the searchable database is limited to contact information for each facility. The Nursing Home Guide appears to be the most comprehensive of the three, including just over half of the descriptive characteristics we searched for in our review.

Ohio. We reviewed two sites for agencies/organizations from the State of Ohio: one comes from the Ohio Department of Aging and the other is from the Ohio Health Care Association (OHCA, the state affiliate of the AHCA). The Department of Aging site was the most comprehensive site of all 28 sites we reviewed in this report. It includes a searchable database with a number of descriptive elements including type of ownership, religious affiliation, certification and accreditation status, bed size, occupancy rates, staffing ratios, and information on special care units, per diem costs, and special services/activities. It also includes information on reported deficiencies, citations, and complaints, and allows comparison of facilities to other facilities and to the state average on these characteristics. The OHCA also provides a searchable database but the descriptive elements are limited to certification status, bed size, and the availability of special care units and special services/activities. Both sites provide educational materials including guides on how to find a facility, how to pay for LTC, information on the state ombudsman program, a nursing home checklist and links to other state resources. The Department of Aging site also includes information on residents’ rights and a link to Nursing Home Compare.

Virginia. The Virginia websites we reviewed came from the Virginia Department of Aging and the Virginia Health Quality Center (VHQC, the state’s Quality Improvement Organization). The Department of Aging website does not include a searchable database but does post a document in PDF format that lists the nursing homes in the state, organized by county. It includes limited information about the facilities (primarily contact information, Medicare/Medicaid certification status, per diem costs, and whether special services/activities are available at the facility). This site includes a large collection of materials for and about older populations. There is a section dedicated to LTC issues and nursing homes; however, the publications are all in PDF format, which makes the nursing home resources less interactive and difficult to search. The VHQC features a section on the state’s nursing home improvement collaborative, which includes 45 facilities in the state but little information is available about these facilities on the website. The website provides a link to Nursing Home Compare as well as other state resources for consumers.

Maryland. We reviewed two websites for agencies/organizations from the State of Maryland: the MHCC (the state’s health care regulatory agency) and the Health Facilities Association of Maryland (HFAM, an affiliate of the AHCA). The MHCC site is available in eight languages in addition to English. Both sites provide a searchable database of facilities with similar sets of facility characteristics; however, the HFAM site appears to be geared primarily to providers, particularly members of HFAM. The HFAM database includes only those facilities that are members of the association. The MHCC site is second only in its comprehensiveness to the CANHR website described above. In addition to the descriptive characteristics, the MHCC also includes quality indicators and quality measures (the only site to do so). The quality measures are the same reported by CMS on the Nursing Home Compare site and the additional quality indicators are those developed by the Center for Health Systems Research and Analysis at the University of Wisconsin. The MHCC site also reports deficiencies whereas the HFAM site does not. Finally, the MHCC site provides a number of educational resources to the web viewer including a guide on how to choose a nursing home, how to pay for LTC, residents’ rights fact sheets, a nursing home checklist and a link to Nursing Home Compare. The HFAM site includes links to other state resources.

We estimated the percentage of selected characteristics contained in each website (data not shown).6 On average, the websites with a national focus included 27.9 percent (range: 4.5-62.8 percent) of these characteristics and the state-specific websites included 31.2 percent (range: 4.5-75 percent) of them, on average. The Nursing Home Compare website (http://www.medicare.gov) and MyZiva.net (http://www.MyZiva.net) included the largest number of nursing facility characteristics among the websites with a national focus (62.8 percent and 61.4 percent, respectively). The AHCA (http://www.ahca.org) had the fewest (4.5 percent), including a link to Nursing Home Compare and to the state affiliates of AHCA. The Ohio Department of Aging website (http://www.goldenbuckeye.com) included 75 percent of the characteristics listed in this set and the CANHR (http://www.canhr.org) included 72.7 percent of these characteristics. The California Department of Aging website (http://www.aging.state.ca.us), the California Care Network site (http://www.calcarenet.ca.gov) and the VHQC site included the fewest of these characteristics (4.5 percent each). Each of these sites provided links to other state resources and one additional piece of information (e.g., link to ombudsman program, a nursing home checklist, or a link to Nursing Home Compare).

C. Navigability of Websites

For each of the websites we reviewed, we examined how easily one might navigate the site to find relevant information. Results of our review of navigability for each site can be found in Appendix H. We found that it took an average of three “clicks” of web links to locate information on how to find a nursing home or a nursing home checklist, with the number of clicks ranging from a low of one to a high of eight. To reach information on paying for LTC, it took an average of 2.7 clicks, with a range of one to eight clicks. It took an average of 3.3 clicks to reach a searchable database (either Nursing Home Compare or the site’s own searchable database), ranging from a low of one click to a high of ten clicks. Lastly, we found that ombudsman information or resident’s rights information was obtainable with an average of 2.8 clicks, with a low of one click to a high of eight clicks.

On some of the websites, it was possible to reach the same information in a variety of ways. For example, on the Nursing Home Compare website, the “Guide to Finding a Nursing Home” can be reached through the Publications link or the Resident’s Rights link. Similarly, Nursing Home Compare can be accessed from the VHQC NHQI website through the home page or the Consumers link. The National Citizen's Coalition for Nursing Home Reform offers several different types of ombudsman and resident’s rights information and the navigability to each of these documents varies.7

It should also be noted that at times there was no correlation between the number of clicks it took to access specific information on a website and the ease of finding that information. For example, although it took ten clicks to access information on specific nursing homes through the searchable database on the AHCA/Long Term Care Living website, it was very easy to find the searchable database and many of the screens could be quickly navigated to reach the desired information. On the other hand, it only took three clicks to reach the link to the Nursing Home Compare website from the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center, but finding the link on the website was extremely difficult. The link to Nursing Home Compare was buried in a section of the website that did not seem to correlate with searching for a nursing home. Indeed, to find the link, we had to do a search of the website using the website’s search feature. The link was listed in the “QI Index” page of the website under “Current Issues.” Thus, the link was not located in a place on the website that could be found in an intuitive manner, even though it only required a few web clicks to reach the correct link.

D. Website Functionality

Appendix G summarizes the results of our review of the functionality of each website.8 These results reflect the review of the main web page for each site. We could not evaluate the “Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home” because the URL for this site directs the viewer to a PDF, which cannot be reviewed using the web tool we applied for this analysis. The table reports the number of errors or warnings (related to functionality) on the main page of each website, reflecting the number of lines of code that established the page that require remedy or review.

The majority of the sites had few “broken” website links, averaging approximately 1.5 broken links per website. The range of errors related to the appropriate labeling of tables, graphs and figures was fairly wide, averaging almost 17 errors per site. Only two sites reported no errors on this measure. There were far more warnings about possible problems, with an average of approximately 34 warnings for potentially inappropriately labeled tables, graphs and figures. There were also numerous warnings across the sites related to the appropriateness of the text and background color contrast. Based on the means reported here, it would appear that few sites gave attention to the appropriate use of relative sizing and positioning codes. There were approximately 50 errors on average per website. However, the range is quite wide, reflecting a few substantial outliers; in fact, nine of the 28 sites reviewed had error counts less than five suggesting that approximately one-third of the sites are appropriately accessible to those who may require a larger font or who use a special reader to view the Internet.

In addition to reviewing the accessibility of the websites, we also examined the reading grade level of each site to determine how easily understandable the material on the site might be to the viewer. We reviewed random samples of text from each website to determine at what reading grade level each website was written. The majority of the websites were written at the college-level (see Appendix H). Nine of the thirteen websites with a national focus used college-level language. The lowest average reading level was the 10th grade in the AARP website. The remaining national sites were either written at the 11th or 12th grade reading level. All 15 state-specific sites used college-level language.


IV. SUMMARY

In this report, we described the results of efforts to understand how accessible the information that can be useful in a consumer’s selection of a nursing facility is by testing various search terms in the three most popular search engines. We also reviewed the content of a select set of websites and summarized the accessibility of each site in terms of its navigability, functionality, and readability.

In general, a search for websites that may support the process by which consumers select a nursing home for themselves or their loved ones will produce a number of relevant websites, regardless of the search terms used. “Finding a nursing home” or “Finding a nursing facility” may be the most commonly used search terms and these search terms produced a number of relevant websites. Google and Yahoo appeared to produce a larger number of relevant websites for the same set of search terms than MSN, although it is unclear why this would be so. On average for the review of websites with a national focus, eight out of ten sites reviewed were relevant and five out of ten sites were relevant and not state-specific. This identification rate is far superior to that in other work employing similar methods. In a study by Berland and colleagues (Berland, Elliott et al. 2001), less than one-quarter of all web links led to relevant material.

In a recent review of state websites, Castle and Lowe (2005) found that 35 states provide a link to CMS’ Nursing Home Compare website. Only 19 states had their own state-level nursing home report cards. Most states (88 percent) provided some educational resources or links to other sources of information, while few (approximately 10 percent) provided a facility database/directory. All websites provided at least some educational resources. While not an exhaustive search, the websites in the current content review revealed that most of the websites reviewed provide some type of searchable database and at least a minimum of descriptive information that can be useful in selecting a nursing facility. The sites reviewed here were more likely to have searchable databases of facilities and all sites provided some type of educational materials. Only 18 percent of the sites provided quality information for consumer consideration when selecting a facility. It is not clear from this review why many of the sites did not include such information; however, almost two-thirds of the websites include a link to Nursing Home Compare. Perhaps website developers determined that the effort to include this information was too great and decided to capitalize on the CMS resource.

In most cases, the documents/websites we selected for the test of navigability were easily found. Some of these sites could be found with one or two web page changes from the home page. Some of these documents/websites could be found in more than one way, some methods taking the consumer through as many as eight pages to find the information being sought. While some information was more easily found on some sites than others, it is important to note that this is only one dimension of navigability and that websites that have greater functionality (better presentation and layout) may be easier to navigate, even if one must traverse through multiple pages to find the information they are looking for.

Many of the sites reviewed had structural problems that affected their functionality in terms of broken web links, tables, graphs, and figures that did not have appropriate alternative text to aid those with various disabilities from reviewing their content, poor contrast between text and background, and lack of relative sizing and positioning codes that are important for viewing sites with increased font sizes or with the aid of a special viewer. The error and warning ranges were quite large, however, masking a few sites that performed well on most or all of these dimensions of functionality. For example, the longtermcareliving.com website, which was jointly produced by AHCA and the National Center for Assisted Living had no errors at all and the AARP website had no broken links, no relative sizing and repositioning code errors, and only one alternative text error.

Language and readability remain challenges to making these websites accessible. Few of the sites offered materials in languages other than English. Most of the sites that provided web content in another language had a Spanish language option. A few were extraordinary in that they provided web content in multiple languages. Surprisingly, college-level reading skills were required to review a majority of the sites. Only four of 29 sites were at below a college reading level and the lowest reading level of these was the 10th grade, still substantially higher than the average adult reading level (Kirsch, Jungeblut et al. 1993; National Center for Education Statistics 2003). In other work reviewing reading grade level of websites, 37 percent of the sites were at a high school reading level (Berland, Elliott et al. 2001), which is more than double the percentage in our review (14.2 percent).

This content review summarizes the information for a set of Internet resources that may be useful in supporting a consumer’s selection of a nursing facility or a caregiver’s selection of a facility for a loved one. The review was not intended to be comprehensive; however the sites reviewed here represent most of the sites with a national focus and state-specific sites for the states considered in our review. In Volume I of this report, we present the findings from focus groups addressing how consumers and information intermediaries use this information and the extent to which the content of and accessibility to these various websites may factor into the nursing home selection process.


V. IMPLICATIONS OF FOCUS GROUP FINDINGS FOR INTERNET RESOURCES

In the companion volume of this report, we present the findings from a series of six focus groups we conducted with nursing home consumers (both former residents and family members of nursing home residents) (Shugarman and Brown 2006). The following provides a synthesis of the findings from the focus groups conducted by RAND with the results of this web content review.

The Federal Government as well as state governments and private entities have created information websites with specific information about LTC with the intention that these sites be instrumental in supporting more informed selections of a nursing facility by consumers. We have learned some important lessons about the decision-making process made from focus group participants, including consumers and information intermediaries. Although the focus groups cannot be generalized to the larger population, the themes that arose from these groups echo similar themes from earlier studies that included an examination of the nursing home search and selection process (Maloney, Finn et al. 1996; Rodgers 1997; Shemwell and Yavas 1997; Lawrence, Moser et al. 1998; Kellett 1999; Lundh, Sandberg et al. 2000; Ryan and Scullion 2000; Castle 2003; Edwards, Courtney et al. 2003).

Important lessons learned include the need for websites to become more accessible in terms of readability, language, and usability as well as a better match between the types of information that consumers generally use and the contents of the sites. The implications of these findings for the utility of report cards or quality reporting for choosing nursing homes are uncertain. However, it seems evident that the effectiveness of these information efforts could be challenged for a number of reasons. These reasons include people’s lack of awareness of the comparative information; their difficulty in using or understanding the information; their inability to act on their provider preference; and the influence of other factors besides quality, such as location or cost. Through the focus groups we conducted, we have identified several additional barriers to the use of Internet-based information about nursing homes. These barriers include the following:

  • Limited time in which to search for and select a facility, often because the consumer is being discharged from a facility and may not be given adequate time to consult all relevant resources or because of denial that a family member is experiencing health events that require nursing home care.

  • Limited access to or familiarity with the Internet.

  • Limited use of these resources by information intermediaries (for many of the same reasons as consumers), often the only professional resource consumers consult during their search for a facility.

  • Limited time in which to search for and select a facility, often because the consumer is being discharged from a hospital and may not be given adequate time to consult all relevant resources. A short timeframe in which to make a decision may also arise from the problems raised above around denial.

  • No easy way to compare the quality of facilities using a more simplified system of rating (e.g., a single number or letter grade) rather than rely on a synthesis of information that comes from state surveys (e.g., deficiencies and citations).

  • Inconsistent access to information on important quality of life domains (e.g., scope of activities, culture and language, safety).

  • A lack of material written at an appropriate reading level, usually less than high school level, or for material presented in languages other than English.

In our review of the Internet sites as part of this study, we found that the reading level of most of the sites was at the college-level, which makes these sites potentially more difficult to access and understand. Several focus group participants mentioned their desire to have information in plain and simple language.

Not only was reading level a challenge but many consumers and information intermediaries cited the lack of information in languages other than English as a challenge in communicating with consumers. About one-quarter of the sites we reviewed had any information available in a language other than English, and in most cases, the only other language in which the information was available was Spanish. Particularly in the focus group locations that had great cultural diversity, language of information resources was cited as a primary concern to consumers.

Although the Nursing Home Compare site has been subject to extensive usability testing, we heard from several of the information intermediaries participating in the RAND focus groups that the site was not viewed as “user friendly,” which creates significant barriers to using the site or for information intermediaries being comfortable with recommending it to clients. As stated earlier, in addition to the inherent challenges many people report in using the Internet, the metrics and facility-specific information available on this site and others similar to it are not always the ones the consumer seeks.

Many consumers based their choice of facility on characteristics rarely included in Internet-based information resources. These characteristics included information on quality of life issues such as activities available in the facility, languages spoken, whether food can be provided to meet residents’ dietary or cultural needs, how the facility appears, how it smells, and how the facility cares for residents (e.g., do residents sitting in the hallways and are they dressed). Most sites also did not include information on costs, another important criterion used in selecting a facility.

Another issue raised by focus group participants was that the information that is available is not always current. Consumers reported dismissing the information that they felt was not up-to-date such as information on deficiencies, and information intermediaries would often not refer their patients/clients to resources they felt were not up-to-date. Although bed availability was not a prominent issue among consumers, discharge planners generally had up-to-date information from the facilities; a few consumers mentioned waiting additional days or weeks to get a bed in their facility of choice or going into a second-choice facility because a bed was not available in their first choice.

The purpose of including quality information (including deficiencies, quality indicators, etc.) on a website is, in part, to produce more informed consumers who make evidence-based choices of facilities for themselves or their loved ones. We found little evidence that consumers considered the more technical aspects of the clinical quality of care in their decision-making calculus; however, if sites were more accessible and did include more of the types of information consumers indicated were important, they might be more likely to use the quality information that is available and factor it into their decision-making processes. However, the role of clinical quality information in consumer decision-making, particularly in comparison to quality of life factors, remains understudied.


VI. REFERENCES

Berland, G.K., M.N. Elliott, L.S. Morales, J.I. Algazy, R.L. Kravitz, M.S. Broder, D.E. Kanouse, J.A. Munoz, J.A. Puyol, M. Lara, K.E. Watkins, H. Yang and E.A. McGlynn (2001). “Health information on the Internet: Accessibility, quality, and readability in English and Spanish.” JAMA 285(20): 2612-21.

Castle, N.G. (2003). “Searching for and selecting a nursing facility.” Med Care Res Rev 60(2): 223-47; discussion 248-52.

Castle N.G. and T.J. Lowe (2005). “Report cards and nursing homes.” Gerontologist 45(1): 48-67.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (2005). “Nursing Home Compare.” Retrieved August 12, 2005, from http://www.medicare.gov/NHCompare/Home.asp.

Chisolm, W., G. Vanderheiden and I. Jacobs (1999). “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0.” Retrieved December 16, 2005, from http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT/.

Edwards, H., M. Courtney and L. Spencer (2003). “Consumer expectations of residential aged care: Reflections on the literature.” Int J Nurs Pract 9(2): 70-7.

Fry, E. (1969). “The readability graph validated at primary levels.” The Reading Teacher 22: 534-538.

Fry. E. (1977). “Fry’s readiability graph: Clarifications, validity, and extension to level 17.” J Reading 21: 242-252.

Kellett, U.M. (1999). “Transition in care: Family carers’ experience of nursing home placement.” J Adv Nurs 29(6): 1474-81.

Kirsch, I., A. Jungeblut, L. Jenkins and A. Kolstad (1993). Adult Literacy in America. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.

Lawrence, F.C., E.B. Moser, A.D. Prawitz and M.W. Collier (1998). “Helpfulness of information sources in the selection of a nursing home.” Psychol Rep 83(3 Pt 2): 1217-8.

Lundh, U., J. Sandberg and M. Nolan (2000). “’I don’t have any other choice’: Spouses’ experiences of placing a partner in a care home for older people in Sweden.” J Adv Nurs 32(5): 1178-86.

Maloney, S.K., J. Finn, D.L. Bloom and J. Andresen (1996). “Personal decisionmaking styles and long-term care choices.” Health Care Financ Rev 18(1): 141-55.

National Center for Education Statistics (2003). “National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL): Key Findings.” Retrieved October 23, 2006, from http://nces.ed.gov/NAAL/index.asp?file=KeyFindings/Demographics/Overall.asp&PageId=16.

Rodgers, B.L. (1997). “Family members’ experiences with the nursing home placement of an older adult.” Appl Nurs Res 10(2): 57-63.

Ryan, A.A. and H.F. Scullion (2000). “Nursing home placement: An exploration of the experiences of family carers.” J Adv Nurs 32(5): 1187-95.

Search Engine Watch (2004). “comScore Media Metrix Search Engine Ratings.” Retrieved August 8, 2005, from http://searchenginewatch.com/reports/article.php/2156431.

Shemwell, D.J. and U. Yavas (1997). “Congregate care facility selection: A conjoint approach.” Health Mark Q 14(4): 109-20.

Shugarman, L.R. and J.A. Brown (2006). Nursing Home Selection: How Do Consumers Choose? Volume I: Findings from Focus Groups of Consumers and Information Intermediaries. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation (WR-457/1-ASPE). [Available at http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/reports/2006/chooseI.htm.]

U.S. General Services Administration (2006). “Section 508.” Retrieved November 1, 2006, from http://www.section508.gov/index.cfm.

Watchfire (2005). “webXact.” Retrieved August 13, 2005, from http://webxact.watchfire.com/.


APPENDIX A. CHARACTERISTICS OF CANDIDATE STATES FOR CONTENT REVIEW AND FOCUS GROUPS

State California Washington, DC Metro Area Iowa Ohio Florida
Candidate site for focus group Santa Monica, CA Baltimore, MD Arlington, VA Des Moines, IA Toledo, OH Miami, FL
In close proximity to RAND facility? Yes Yes Yes No No No
RAND has prior relationship with candidate site? Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Resource rich/Resource poora Resource Rich Resource Rich Resource Poor Resource Poor Resource Rich Resource Rich
Number of facilities within 25 mile radius of candidate siteb 125 108 107 36 55 63
% population 65+c 10.6 11.3 11.2 14.9 13.3 17.6
Urban/Rural Urban Urban Urban/ Suburban Rural Urban/ Suburban Urban
Racial/Ethnic Diversityd Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
  1. Based on descriptive information in Castle et al., 2005 and Nursing Home Compare links to state resources.
  2. Data come from Nursing Home Compare.
  3. Based on the 2000 Census. The population 65 and older is 12.4% of the entire U.S. population.
  4. Based on the 2000 Census. States that reported above average proportions of their population as either Hispanic or African-American were deemed racially/ethnically diverse.


APPENDIX B. WEBSITES INCLUDED IN THE CONTENT REVIEW

APPENDIX B.1. State-Specific Websites for the Nursing Home Information Content Review
CALIFORNIA
California Department of Aging http://www.aging.state.ca.us/
California Care Network http://www.calcarenet.ca.gov/
California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform http://www.canhr.org/
California Department of Health Services Licensing and Certification http://www.dhs.ca.gov/lnc/default.htm
California Healthcare Foundation -- California Nursing Home Search http://www.calnhs.org/
MARYLAND
Maryland Health Care Commission http://mhcc.maryland.gov/
Health Facilities Association of Maryland http://www.hfam.org/findfacility.htm
VIRGINIA
Virginia Department for the Aging http://www.aging.state.va.us/
Virginia Health Quality Center Nursing Home Quality Initiative http://www.vhqc.org/index/nhqi
IOWA
Iowa Department of Elder Affairs http://www.state.ia.us/elderaffairs/
Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, Health Facilities Division https://dia-hfd.iowa.gov/DIA_HFD/Home.do
FLORIDA
Florida Agency for Health Care Administration http://www.fdhc.state.fl.us/index.shtml
Floridahealthstat http://www.floridahealthstat.com/
Florida Health Care Association http://www.fhca.org/index.html
OHIO
Ohio Department of Aging http://www.goldenbuckeye.com/
Ohio Health Care Association http://www.ohca.org/


APPENDIX B.2. Nationally Focused Websites for the Nursing Home Information Content Review
ASPE SUGGESTED WEBSITES
Nursing Home Compare http://www.medicare.gov/NHCompare/home
Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home http://nccnhr.newc.com/uploads/NhConsumerGuide.pdf
The Administration on Aging http://www.aoa.gov/
National Citizen’s Coalition for Nursing Home Reform http://nursinghomeaction.org/
The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center http://www.ltcombudsman.org/default.cfm
American Association of Homes and Services for the Aged http://www.aahsa.org/
American Health Care Association http://www.ahca.org/
HealthGrades http://www.healthgrades.com
OTHER SITES FOR CONTENT REVIEW
Member of the Family http://www.memberofthefamily.net/
AARP http://www.aarp.org/
Long Term Care Living (Sponsored by AHCA and National Center for Assisted Living) http://www.longtermcareliving.com/
Myziva.net http://www.myziva.net
A Place for Mom http://www.aplaceformom.com/default.htm


APPENDIX C. DATA ELEMENTS FOR ABSTRACTION FROM SELECTED WEBSITES


APPENDIX D. RESULTS OF ACCESSIBILITY TESTING

APPENDIX D.1. Website Search Results--National Summary of Accessibility Testing by Search Engine: Relevant Sites Onlya
Search Terms Relevant Sites from Search Enginesb Mean
Google Yahoo MSN
Finding a nursing home 8 9 8 8.3
Finding a nursing facility 10 10 9 9.7
Nursing home search 7 8 8 7.7
Nursing home quality 10 10 9 9.7
Nursing home comparisons 9 7 6 7.3
Long-term care facility 8 8 2 6.0
Mean 8.7 8.7 7.0 8.1
  1. This table summarizes the number of relevant sites identified for each set of search terms by search engine. A website was deemed relevant if the search terms of interest were located in either the link title or in the text immediately below the link title and the content did not refer to a website or resources outside of the United States.
  2. Results were based on a review of the first ten sites listed in the search engine output.


APPENDIX D.2. Website Search Results--National Summary of Accessibility by Relevancy: Total and Relevant with a National Focusa,b
Search Terms Total Relevant Relevant with a National Focus
Finding a nursing home 8.3 3.7
Finding a nursing facility 9.7 6.0
Nursing home search 7.7 5.3
Nursing home quality 9.7 7.7
Nursing home comparisons 7.3 4.3
Long-term care facility 6.0 3.7
Mean 8.1 5.8
  1. This table summarizes the number of relevant sites identified for each set of search terms that had a national focus. A website was deemed relevant if the search terms of interest were located in either the link title or in the text immediately below the link title and the content did not refer to a website or resources outside of the United States. Furthermore, we eliminated sites that were state-specific to derive the count of relevant sites with a national focus.
  2. Results were based on a review of the first ten sites listed in the search engine output.


APPENDIX D.3. Website Search Results--Statea,b: Summary of Total Relevant Sites by State
  CA MD VA OH IA FL Mean
Finding a nursing home 9.0 3.0 4.0 6.0 7.0 7.0 6.0
Finding a nursing facility 8.0 2.0 4.0 7.0 7.0 4.0 5.3
Nursing home search 9.0 7.0 6.0 7.0 7.0 7.0 7.2
Nursing home quality 5.0 7.0 9.0 6.0 8.0 5.0 6.7
Nursing home comparisons 8.0 7.0 7.0 7.0 8.0 8.0 7.5
Long-term care facility 8.0 7.0 9.0 9.0 8.0 5.0 7.7
Mean 7.8 5.5 6.5 7.0 7.5 6.0 6.7
  1. This table summarizes the number of relevant sites identified for each set of search terms (which included the state name in the search effort). A website was deemed relevant if the search terms of interest were located in either the link title or in the text immediately below the link title and the content did not refer to a website or resources outside of the United States.Results were based on a review of the first ten sites listed in the search engine output.


APPENDIX D.4. Website Search Results--Statea,b: Summary of Total Relevant State-Specific Sites by State
  CA MD VA OH IA FL Mean
Finding a nursing home 8.0 3.0 2.0 6.0 7.0 6.0 5.3
Finding a nursing facility 8.0 1.0 3.0 5.0 7.0 4.0 4.7
Nursing home search 8.0 6.0 4.0 6.0 6.0 7.0 6.2
Nursing home quality 4.0 4.0 8.0 5.0 8.0 5.0 5.7
Nursing home comparisons 8.0 6.0 5.0 6.0 8.0 7.0 6.7
Long-term care facility 7.0 0.0 3.0 9.0 8.0 5.0 5.3
Mean 7.2 3.3 4.2 6.2 7.3 5.7 5.6
  1. This table summarizes the number of relevant sites identified for each set of search terms (which included the state name in the search effort). A website was deemed relevant if the search terms of interest were located in either the link title or in the text immediately below the link title and the content did not refer to a website or resources outside of the United States.
  2. Results were based on a review of the first ten sites listed in the search engine output.


APPENDIX E. SUMMARY OF WEBSITE CONTENT

Domains of Comparison Total National Sites (N = 13) State Sites (N = 16)
% (N) % (N) % (N)
MEMBERSHIP REQUIRED 31.0 (9) 46.2 (6) 18.8 (3)
 
WEBSITE ACCESSIBLE FOR OTHER LANGUAGES 27.6 (8) 30.8 (4) 25.0 (4)
 
DESCRIPTIVE INFORMATION OF NH      
Type of ownership 41.4 (12) 46.2 (6) 37.5 (6)
Hospital affiliation 10.3 (3) 23.1 (3) 0 (0)
Contract with Managed Care 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Medicare/Medicaid certified 48.3 (14) 46.2 (6) 50.0 (8)
Type of Accreditation (e.g., JCAHO/CARF, etc.) 3.5 (1) 0 (0) 6.3 (1)
Size of Facility      
-   Bed size 48.3 (14) 38.5 (5) 56.3 (9)
-   Number of residents 13.8 (4) 23.1 (3) 6.3 (1)a
Staffing Information      
-   Number of staff 6.9 (2) 0 (0) 12.5 (2)
-   Staff hours/resident 20.7 (6) 23.1 (3) 18.8 (3)
-   Staff/resident 3.5 (1) 0 (0) 6.3 (1)
Languages Spoken 10.4 (3) 7.7 (1) 12.5 (2)
Special Meals 10.4 (3) 15.4 (2) 6.3 (1)
Special Care Units 27.6 (8) 15.4 (2) 37.5 (6)
% Medicaid Residents 6.9 (2) 0 (0) 12.5 (2)
% Rehabilitative Residents 3.5 (1) 0 (0) 6.3 (1)
Case Mix 10.4 (3) 0 (0) 18.8 (3)
Per Diem Costs 20.7 (6) 15.4 (2)b  25.0 (4)
Religious Affiliation 13.8 (4) 23.1 (3) 6.3 (1)
Resident/Family Council 13.8 (4) 23.1 (3) 6.3 (1)
Special Services/Activitiesc 34.5 (10) 15.4 (2) 50.0 (8)
 
DIRECTORY OF FACILITIES      
Searchable Database of NHs 62.1 (18) 53.8 (7) 68.8 (11)
Facility Name 62.1 (18) 53.8 (7) 68.8 (11)
Facility Address 58.6 (17) 46.2 (6) 68.8 (11)
Facility Phone Number 55.2 (16) 38.5 (5) 68.8 (11)
Facility E-mail Address 20.7 (6) 0 (0) 37.5 (6)
Facility Website Address 13.8 (4) 0 (0) 25.0 (4)
 
QUALITY INFORMATION      
Quality Indicators 3.5 (1) 0 (0) 6.3 (1)
Quality Measures 17.2 (5) 23.1 (3) 12.5 (2)
Deficiencies 37.9 (11) 30.8 (4) 43.8 (7)
-   Number 37.9 (11) 30.8 (4) 43.8 (7)
-   Type 37.9 (11) 30.8 (4) 43.8 (7)
-   Severity 31.0 (9) 30.8 (4) 31.3 (5)
Citations 13.8 (4) 0 (0) 25.0 (4)
Turnover 6.9 (2) 0 (0) 12.5 (2)
Complaints 13.8 (4) 7.7 (1) 18.8 (3)
Tools to Compare      
-   Facility to Facility 24.1 (7) 23.1 (3) 25.0 (4)
-   Facility to State 24.1 (7) 23.1 (3) 25.0 (4)
-   Facility to National Average 6.9 (2) 15.4 (2) 0 (0)
 
EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS      
How to Find a NH 55.2 (16) 46.2 (6) 62.5 (10)
How to Pay for Long-Term Care 62.1 (18) 76.9 (10) 50.0 (8)
NH Residents' Rights 37.9 (11) 38.5 (5) 37.5 (6)
Info on Ombudsman 72.4 (21) 69.2 (9) 75.0 (12)
Nursing Home Checklistd 69.0 (20) 76.9 (10) 62.5 (10)
Link to Nursing Home Comparee 65.5 (19) 75.0 (9) 62.5 (10)
Link to State Resourcesf 89.7 (26) 76.9 (10) 100 (16)
  1. This site provided information about average percent resident occupancy.
  2. One of the national sites provided limited cost information and allowed users to search by what they might be able to afford.
  3. E.g., ventilator care, dementia/Alzheimer’s care, dialysis, etc.
  4. E.g., what to look for when visiting a facility.
  5. The calculation of the percentage was based on a denominator of 27 for the total and 12 for the national site columns, respectively, excluding the Nursing Home Compare website from the se calculations.
  6. For state-specific sites, this refers to links to other state resources.


APPENDIX F. QUALITY INDICATORS AND QUALITY MEASURES

Quality Indicators used in this report include:

  1. Incidence of new fracture
  2. Prevalence of falls
  3. Prevalence of behavioral symptoms affecting others
  4. Prevalence of symptoms of depression
  5. Prevalence of depression without antidepressant therapy
  6. Use of 9 or more different medications
  7. Incidence of cognitive impairment
  8. Prevalence of bladder or bowel incontinence
  9. Prevalence of occasional or frequent bladder or bowel incontinence without a toileting plan
  10. Prevalence of indwelling catheters
  11. Prevalence of fecal impaction
  12. Prevalence of urinary tract infections
  13. Prevalence of weight loss
  14. Prevalence of tube feeding
  15. Prevalence of dehydration
  16. Prevalence of bedfast residents
  17. Incidence of decline in late loss ADLs
  18. Incidence of decline in ROM
  19. Prevalence of antipsychotic use in the absence of psychotic and related conditions
  20. Prevalence of antianxiety/hypnotic drug use
  21. Prevalence of hypnotic use more than two times in the last week
  22. Prevalence of daily physical restraints
  23. Prevalence of little or no activity
  24. Prevalence of stage 1-4 pressure ulcers

Quality Measures used in this report include:

  1. Percent of residents whose need for help with daily activities has increased
  2. Percent of residents who have moderate to severe pain
  3. Percent of high-risk residents who have pressure sores
  4. Percent of low-risk residents who have pressure sores
  5. Percent of residents who were physically restrained
  6. Percent of residents who are more depressed or anxious
  7. Percent of low-risk residents who lose control of their bowels or bladder
  8. Percent of residents who have/had a catheter inserted and left in their bladder
  9. Percent of residents who spent most of their time in bed or in a chair
  10. Percent of residents whose ability to move about in and around their room got worse
  11. Percent of residents with a urinary tract infection
  12. Percent of residents who lose too much weight
  13. Percent of short-stay residents with delirium
  14. Percent of short-stay residents who had moderate to severe pain
  15. Percent of short-stay residents with pressure sores


APPENDIX G. SUMMARY DATA ON WEBSITE FUNCTIONALITY ANALYSIS

  Range Overall Meana National Meana State Mean
No Broken Links (Errors)b 0-20 1.48 2.5 0.67
Tables/Graphs/Figures Are Labeled Appropriately (Errors)c 0-60 16.7 16.9 16.5
Tables/Graphs/Figures Are Labeled Appropriately (Warnings)c 5-132 34.3 41.4 28.6
Appropriate Text and Background Color Contrast (Warnings)d 2-176 38.1 47.0 30.9
Appropriate Use of Relative Sizing and Positioning Codes (Errors)e 0-205 50.3 52.7 48.4
  1. A total of 28 websites were included in the denominator for the overall mean. Twelve websites were included in the denominator for the calculation of the national mean. The “Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home” site could not be evaluated because it is made available only as PDF.
  2. Each web link is active, meaning that it leads to a valid web page.
  3. Refers both to the inclusion of alternative (“alt”) text for each non-text element, that all table rows and columns are appropriately labeled, and that summaries are provided for tables.
  4. The foreground and background color combinations provide sufficient contrast for those with visual impairments.
  5. Allows the webpage to adjust to the dimensions of the screen and/or allows for the font size to adjust.


APPENDIX H. WEBSITE DESCRIPTION SUMMARIES

This Appendix is currently available only as part of the PDF file (http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/reports/2006/chooseII.pdf). You will need a copy of the Acrobat Reader in order to view it.

The websites summarized are:

  1. Nursing Home Compare
  2. National Citizen’s Coalition for Nursing Home Reform
  3. myziva.net
  4. A Place for Mom
  5. Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home
  6. Administration on Aging
  7. The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center
  8. American Association of Homes and Services for the Aged
  9. American Health Care Association
  10. Member of the Family
  11. AARP
  12. AHCA/Long Term Care Living
  13. HealthGrades
  14. California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform
  15. California Health Care
  16. California Department of Aging
  17. California Care Network
  18. California Department of Health Services Licensing and Certification
  19. Maryland Health Care Commission
  20. Health Facilities Association of Maryland
  21. Virginia Department of Aging
  22. Virginia Health Quality Center Nursing Home Quality Initiative
  23. Iowa Department of Elder Affairs
  24. Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, Health Facilities Division
  25. Floridahealthstat
  26. AHCA Nursing Home Guide
  27. Florida Health Care Association
  28. Ohio Department of Aging
  29. Ohio Health Care Association


NOTES

  1. HealthGrades charges a modest fee to access nursing home search results.

  2. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that when federal agencies develop electronic resources (or acquire them from an outside source), those with disabilities can have access to the same information that individuals without disabilities can access. Section 508 only applies to the federal sector; private sector sites are not required to comply (U.S. General Services Administration (2006). “Section 508.” Retrieved November 1, 2006, from http://www.section508.gov/index.cfm. However, the functionality guidelines included in the content review (i.e., Level Triple-A Conformance to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0) are similar to those that apply to the Federal Government.

  3. The counts of errors and warnings reported here refer to the accessibility guidelines reviewed using the software developed by Watchfire. These have not been verified against actual content.

  4. Developed by researchers at the Center for Health Systems Research and Analysis at the University of Wisconsin, quality indicators are markers of either the presence or absence of potentially poor nursing home care practices or outcomes. The indicators relate to both the psychological and clinical care that residents receive in nursing homes.

  5. Quality measures indicate whether a nursing home has adequately met specific criteria related to the physical and clinical conditions, abilities, and preferences of nursing home residents. These data come from the Minimum Data Set (MDS) Repository. The MDS is an assessment instrument collected on a regular basis for all nursing home residents on Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing facilities. This information is routinely collected by CMS and posted on the Nursing Home Compare website.

  6. Based on 44 characteristics; excluding membership required and availability in other languages as well as all “other” categories.

  7. In determining the averages cited above, we used the higher number of clicks if there was more than one way to access the same information.

  8. Based on the review using WatchFire.

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