A recent report finds nursing homes across New York are going without proper oversight.
AARP New York’s report finds about 80% of New York City’s almost 300 nursing homes, assisted-living and adult-care facilities didn’t receive a single visit from the state’s Long Term Care Ombudsman Program during a three-month period in 2022.
The reason for this is that the program has long been underfunded, a trend that’s set to continue in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s latest budget.
Richard Mollot, executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition, explained what would improve the ombudsman program and keep nursing homes accountable for patient care.
“The Department of Health needs to do a better job,” said Mollot. “You know, these surveyors are inspectors. They need to be equipped and supported to ensure that residents are safe and that the facilities are not allowed to perpetuate poor care and demeaning conditions.”
He added that what’s critically needed is a professional ombudsman staff to meet the needs of nursing-home residents. This means regularly monitoring facilities, providing support to residents, and being a voice for residents too.
AARP New York is calling on a commitment of $15 million in state funding for the ombudsman program to ensure it has enough staff to follow through with serious complaints from nursing-home residents.
Trends for nursing homes across the state weren’t much better. The report finds that more than half of facilities throughout New York failed to receive one visit from a Long Term Care Ombudsman.
But, outside of this program, there are challenges nursing homes have been facing for some time. Lindsay Heckler, supervising attorney at the Center for Elder Law & Justice, said one challenge that needs to be addressed is staffing.
“The rules and regulations that are in both federal and state law need to be fully enforced,” said Heckler. “So, for example, New York State has the minimum staffing standards that are in effect. The state needs to make sure that nursing homes are doing their job and meeting those bare minimums.”
Issues with staffing in nursing homes have been ongoing, but were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a report from the American Healthcare Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, from February 2020 to December 2022, nursing homes across the U.S. lost more than 210,000 workers.
Edwin is a reporter and producer in North Tonawanda, New York. He’s previously reported for the Niagara Gazette and the Ithaca Times. Edwin got an early start in radio interning for WBFO-88.7FM, NPR’s Buffalo affiliate. In 2018, he graduated from SUNY Buffalo State College with a B.A. in Journalism, and in 2022, graduated from Syracuse University with an M.S. in Communications.