The number of complaints at nursing homes and long-term care facilities in New York has been increasing, according to recent data from AARP. However, advocates for elderly residents warn that many issues may be going unreported due to insufficient resources for the agency responsible for overseeing these facilities. AARP’s Bill Ferris suggests that the reported complaints represent “just the tip of the iceberg.”
AARP is calling for a $15 million increase in funding for the state’s long-term ombudsman program to hire 250 new staff members to visit assisted living facilities. Ferris emphasizes the importance of the ombudsman in helping residents and keeping family caregivers informed about the care of their loved ones in these facilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased scrutiny of nursing homes. Industry officials maintain that the facilities are safe for residents and have taken appropriate precautions since the pandemic began. However, non-profit entities are seeking a higher Medicaid reimbursement rate this year to help cover rising costs, and advocates argue that more oversight will improve the quality of care.
The State Office of the Aging highlights the $3.7 million in Governor Kathy Hochul’s budget to cover long-term care facilities but acknowledges the importance of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program in resolving problems and improving residents’ quality of life and care. The state Assembly proposes increasing spending on the program by $12.5 million, but some lawmakers, such as Republican Assemblyman Scott Gray, question whether increased spending is the solution. Gray suggests that the Department of Health’s lack of responsiveness is the real issue and argues that the ombudsman program should continue to rely mainly on volunteers who are passionate about their work.
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