Although the Web site formally launched Thursday, CMS is soliciting comments on the site through June and July.
But Nursing Home Compare online should not be the only source families use, experts noted.
"Things like Nursing Home Compare are tools, not the be-all and end-all," Phillips said. "Any individual who faces putting someone in a nursing home should talk to the nursing home ombudsman in the area. They're at the area agency on aging."
"The other thing is, there is absolutely no substitute for physically going to the facility yourself and getting a picture of what that facility is like and whether or not you think your loved one will be comfortable in it," Phillips added.
Data are also available from the United Jewish Federation, which has regional offices, as well as from the U.S. Department of Aging and from Friends and Relatives of Institutionalized Aged, Greenberg added.
Check out the updated nursing home Web site.
SOURCES: Charles Phillips, Ph.D., Regents professor, health policy and management, Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health, College Station, Texas; Debra Greenberg, M.S.W., Ph.D., senior social worker, division of geriatrics instruction, Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Laurie G. Jacobs, M.D., director, Resnick Gerontology Center, Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Dec. 17, 2008, statement, National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform; Dec. 17, 2008, statement, American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
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