Over 96% of New York City’s nursing homes and other adult care facilities failed to receive a single visit from New York’s federally-required adult care oversight program in the first three months of this year.
And it wasn’t much better on Long Island or the rest of the state, according to New York State Office for the Aging data on the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP).
Aging Advocates are urging a $15 million investment in next year’s State Budget to enable LTCOP to do its job and help protect some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens.
“The fact that almost every nursing home and adult care facility in New York City and over half across the state didn’t get a single visit from a federally-required oversight agency in the first quarter of this year is appalling,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “Nursing home residents are our parents, our grandparents, our spouses, our loved ones. They are among the most vulnerable people in our society, and they deserve better.”
“We applaud AARP New York for undertaking this assessment, which demonstrates the critical need to ensure sufficient state funding for the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program,” said Richard Mollot, Executive Director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition. “Vulnerable residents need – and are entitled to – ombudsman services. But they will only get them if the state provides appropriate funding for the program.”
“New York State’s match for this partially federally-funded program is one of the lowest in the nation, leaving providers overly reliant on volunteers,” said Lindsay Miller, Executive Director of the New York Association on Independent Living. “This has become a huge problem as it is increasingly difficult to recruit volunteers for the program and it is crucial the program have a presence in facilities across the state.”
There are 1,400 nursing homes, assisted living, and other licensed adult care facilities across New York that are home to older adults and people with disabilities.
“While substandard care in nursing homes is by no means a new issue, it has grown exponentially worse due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Center for Elder Law and Justice CEO Karen L. Nicolson. “The timing for New York State to increase its investment in LTCOP is critical, as shown by the data. Older adults deserve to age with dignity, and giving LTCOP the ability to hire devoted employees for the program will help them do so.”
The following chart shows the seven regions with the highest percentage of facilities that received no visits by the program during the first quarter of this year, January 1, 2022 through March 31, 2022, the most recent period for which data is available. Statewide, 58.52% of all facilities did not receive an ombudsman visit at all during those three months:
LTCOP is supposed to be the voice of the frail in our institutions, helping residents and their family members and caregivers understand and exercise their rights, and intervening to help protect them by resolving specific resident quality-of-care issues.
“New York’s LTCOP is not able to work effectively at current state funding levels,” according to a new report from AARP New York that lays out the data. “The program currently relies overly on volunteers and not professional staff, limiting its ability to meet the demand for services and care by long-term care facilities’ residents. The majority of LTCOP program volunteers are older, and therefore more vulnerable to COVID-19 or other infectious diseases themselves.”
LTCOP’s stated goal is one full-time employee for every five facilities for weekly coverage.
A $15 million increase in the next state budget would add 235 full-time employees to conduct regular and consistent weekly visits. Such an increase would bring the State’s annual investment in LTCOP to $19.4 million, up from the current $4.4 million.
AARP New York is urging the Governor to include a $15 million increase for LTCOP in the 2023-24 Executive Budget. “It would be an injustice,” the organizations’ report concludes, “to allow some of our state’s most vulnerable residents to continue to languish without access to the quality care and oversight they deserve.”
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin.
Photo credit: 1) Source. 2) NYSOFA quarterly reports.