Families looking for an assisted-living home for a suddenly declining older relative often make that crucial decision in a hurry.
This week, tough new standards will make the state rating system more useful to people under the stress of that situation, officials say.
In 2010, the highest rating for these centers, classed as adult-care homes by the state, will move from three to four stars and will require consistently high performance over two years.
In addition, ratings will factor in recent penalties for violations such as medication errors and failure to stop residents' wandering.
That means the top rating will be much harder to come by, state officials and industry representatives said. In the past, about 95 percent of the centers got a top rating.
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