To require minimum hours of direct care and increased staffing levels in nursing homes.
This will ensure visitation and transparency, restore families’ legal recourse, and invest in cost-effective services that help New Yorkers remain at home.
AARP sent a letter to the Governor urging him to include the reforms in his 30-day Executive Budget amendments.
“The nursing home crisis is front and center in this State, as it should be; now, through the State Budget, is the time and way to end it,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “We should not waste this golden opportunity to improve safety and conditions for our mothers, fathers, grandparents, spouses, and other loved ones in New York’s nursing homes – and for the staff who care for them.”
The Five-Point Plan for nursing homes and other adult care facilities would address Quality Care, Retroactive Repeal of Legal Immunity, Transparency, Home-and Community-Based Services, and Visitation.
AARP New York also supports a package of nursing home reform legislation under consideration by the New York State Senate.
AARP New York recently joined with healthcare workers union 1199SEIU and nursing home consumer advocates The Long Term Care Community Coalition to urge minimum hours of care and other reforms in a letter to Governor Cuomo, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
“What has happened to our loved ones in nursing homes during the past 11 months is a tragedy,” added Finkel. “AARP New York stands ready to work with the Governor and Legislature to ensure it stops now and never happens again.”
See a full copy of today’s letter to Governor Cuomo below (including The Five-Point Plan):
February 16, 2021
Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo:
AARP New York was encouraged to hear the nursing home reform proposals you outlined yesterday for your 30-day 2021-22 Executive Budget amendments. As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed alarming flaws in our long-term care system, putting vulnerable nursing home residents’ health, safety, and quality of care at unprecedented risk. The nursing home crisis in New York State must end now and should never happen again.
The loss of life, totaling more than 15,000 New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the pain it has caused their families, should stand as a reminder of the importance of the task at hand: to make our nursing homes and adult care facilities safe for generations to come.
AARP proposes the following Five-Point Plan that we strongly urge you to address for all nursing homes and adult care facilities in your 30-day budget amendments:
1. Quality Care: require all nursing homes to spend more resources on direct care, along with increased nursing home staff levels; ensure strict compliance with infectious disease controls; and provide regular and ongoing testing, adequate PPE, and oversight through safe in-person access by formal advocates (long-term care ombudsmen) – including increasing staffing for the LTC Ombudsman program.
2. Retroactive Repeal of Legal Immunity: stop shielding long-term care facilities for any negligent care delivered earlier in a pandemic. Pursuing legal action is not an easy thing to do, and no family member who has lost a loved one due to neglect or abuse pursues this course of action lightly. It is always an option of last resort and must remain an option for families.
3. Transparency: codify the requirement of daily reporting of data on fatalities and infectious disease rates of staff and residents in all nursing homes and adult care facilities with a publicly available annual report to the Legislature.
4. Home-and Community-Based Services: help New Yorkers remain in their own homes and out of potentially unsafe nursing homes by increasing State funding for in-home and community-based services by $27 million. This would help end waiting lists for over 10,000 people seeking these services, which support family caregivers in helping older loved ones remain in their own homes – as the vast majority want – rather than in costlier, mostly taxpayer-funded nursing homes.
5. Visitation: ensure safe in-person and facilitated virtual visitation, and ensure families are able to obtain compassionate care visits. Social interaction with family and friends is critical to the health and wellbeing of residents. In addition to the social connectivity and emotional support they provide, visitors are key members of the resident care team. Prohibiting and limiting in-person visits is one of the biggest concerns AARP has heard from our members during the pandemic.
We believe implementing these policies will be essential to reforming the long-term care system in New York to provide better services to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
AARP New York stands ready to work with you and your administration to make these nursing home reforms a reality in the final 2021-22 New York State Budget.
Beth Finkel, State Director, AARP New York
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.