Advocates Call on Governor Hochul to Sign Bill to Help Nursing Home Residents

By AARP NY | December 16, 2021

Legislation would strengthen state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

ALBANY—Organizations representing older New Yorkers and their caregivers today called on Governor Kathy Hochul to sign legislation to improve the lives of New Yorkers living in nursing homes.

The bills, S.612B sponsored by Senator Rachel May and A.5436B sponsored by Assemblywoman Sarah Clark, would require the New York State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) to implement an awareness program, create procedures for reporting between LTCOP and the Department of Health (DOH), and require long-term care facilities to include LTCOP in their pandemic preparedness plans.

In a letter, AARP New York, the Center for Elder Law & Justice, Lifespan, and the Long Term Care Community Coalition urged Governor Hochul to sign the bill, which passed the Legislature unanimously in May. The organizations released the following joint statement:

“More than 15,000 New York nursing home residents have died since the pandemic started. COVID-19 has shined a light on many quality care issues in New York’s long term care facilities. Our organizations believe Governor Hochul can raise the level of care provided by long-term care facilities in our state by signing this bill as passed by the legislature without further delay. Our fellow New Yorkers residing nursing home deserve no less.

“LTCOP is the only agency authorized to visit facilities on a regular basis to observe conditions, monitor care, and investigate and resolve complaints made by or on behalf of residents. Currently the effectiveness of LTCOP is hampered because there is no statutory requirement for communication between LTCOP and DOH. Complaints and calls to DOH by LTCOP are met with lengthy delays, or go unanswered.

“In addition, LTCOP, as the agency that visits facilities on a regular basis, has information that could assist DOH in its enforcement responsibilities for complaint or certification inspections of nursing homes. However, while DOH has the authority to contact LTCOP prior to inspection, DOH fails to do so uniformly across New York State.

“LTCOP helps give a voice to those residents who may not necessarily have one. The program’s goal is to ensure older adults and persons with disabilities can age with dignity and receive safe, quality care when living in nursing homes and other adult care facilities.”