A midsection of senior couple at home, a husband looking after his disabled wife.
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A new Assisted Living Report Card launched Monday in Minnesota, allowing consumers to compare assisted living communities based on resident and family reviews, along with state inspection ratings.

In 2019, the state legislature provided funding to develop the report card and contracted with the University of Minnesota School of Public Health to complete a national review of quality measurements in assisted living. A report summarizing feedback from a wide variety of stakeholders on the UMN report was released in January 2020

According to the state, almost 63,000 Minnesotans live in more than 2,200 licensed assisted living communities across the state. The report card only features ratings for 20% of those communities to date, focusing on the largest ones that are home to almost half of the state’s assisted living residents. There are plans to expand the report card in early 2025 to include more communities and ratings based on the health department’s licensing surveys and investigations.

Care Providers of Minnesota participated in the development of the report card, including serving on an advisory council and workgroup as well as field testing the quality-of-life survey with its members. But President and CEO Toby Pearson told McKnight’s Senior Living that he hopes the report card will develop further, to make it more helpful to consumers.

“We need to start somewhere,” Pearson said, adding that some aspects of the report should be addressed so that they provide better context to consumers about the size of the setting and which Medicaid waivers a provider accepts. “Hopefully this is not the end, but part of the process of ongoing development of something that will be helpful.”

Pearson added that the report card should provide consumers with information on what an assisted living community is and to whom an assisted living community may be providing services.

“We’re optimistic we can start to develop and further refine the new assisted living report card,” he said. “There’s plenty of room for improvement, but we have to start somewhere.” 

The process

Pilot-testing of resident and family satisfaction surveys in both general assisted living and memory care settings was completed in 2020 and 2021. Those surveys were implemented statewide in 2021 and 2022 to collect data on communities that serve eight or more residents, and communities with seven or fewer residents completed a pilot study at the same time. 

The new online Assisted Living Report Card is modeled after the state’s Nursing Home Report Card. The assisted living report card was developed by UMN in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Human Services — which actually discussed the idea of an online assisted living report card in 2017 — the Minnesota Board of Aging and the state Department of Health.

“Minnesota once again is leading in pioneering a data-driven, evidence-informed tool for consumers seeking assisted living options,” Tetyana Shippee, PhD, JD, associate director for research at the UMN Center for Healthy Aging and Innovation at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, said in a press release

Shippee and her colleagues conducted a two-phase project to develop the quality measures. It included a national literature review of quality measures and technical advisory panels as well as statewide stakeholder engagement to determine priority rankings for nine assisted living quality domains and indicators. Quality of life, staff quality and resident safety were the top three areas of importance across all stakeholder groups.

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