US star ratings system contributed to COVID-19 aged care deaths, New York Times finds

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12 years after its introduction the United States’ star rating system for aged care homes has been declared broken by the New York Times.

The system was introduced to help people find the best aged care homes for their loved ones but the major publication found it created a “distorted picture” of the quality of aged care across the country.

The investigation came after more than 130,000 aged care residents died from COVID-19 in the United States.

The system is run by the U.S. Centres for Medicare & Medicaid Services and is based upon self-reporting and on-site examinations, which result in the star score being given.

The NYT found much of the data supplied to authorities was inaccurate with results being tweaked to make homes appear cleaner and safer than they really were.

Some aged care homes also inflated their staffing numbers and would often not report accidents or resident’s health issues.

It’s believed the incorrect data helped play a part in the pandemic wreaking havoc on aged care homes, the NYT concluded, saying the five-star system left them unprepared.