Nursing home residents’ complaints number in the thousands each year, yet many more go unreported due to insufficient oversight
Reports of Abuse, Gross Neglect, Exploitation Occur Every Week on Average; Oversight Program Lacks Enough Staff to Address Vulnerable Population’s Concerns
ALBANY, N.Y. – Residents of nursing homes, assisted living and other adult care facilities file thousands of complaints a year ranging from gross neglect – including physical and sexual abuse – poor care, involuntary discharge and eviction, poor food, inattentive staff, and shoddy management.
Yet the State oversight program tasked with serving as an advocate for residents – some of New York’s most vulnerable people – remains understaffed and underfunded.
In this year’s state budget negotiations, the Governor proposed no additional funding for the program, while the State Senate only offered a modest increase. The State Assembly has proposed an additional $12.5 million for the program, which would go a long way toward addressing these woes if adopted in a final state budget.
AARP New York and other advocates for the aging have been pushing for a $15 million increase in funding for LTCOP in the 2023-24 State Budget, which was due today but is still being negotiated. The additional funding would allow for the hiring of 235 full-time staff to meet LTCOP’s self-set standard of a weekly visit to each nursing and adult care facility, including more than 500 in New York City and on Long Island.
There are likely far more complaints that aren’t being reported to the State Office for the Aging (SOFA) because its federally-required Long Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) doesn’t have enough staff to visit each of the state’s approximately 1,400 adult care facilities on a regular basis and interact with residents and their family caregivers.
Over 5,000 complaints (5,073) were filed between Oct. 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022, according to the latest data available from SOFA. The overall number of complaints increased nearly 37%, from 1,445 during the first three months of that period (Oct. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2021) to 1,979 during the last three-months (April 1, 2022-June 30, 2022).
“Lack of adequate funding is having an adverse impact on the care provided to our loved ones living in nursing homes and other adult care facilities,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “The program is supposed to act as the eyes and ears of residents and their families, yet so many aren’t getting the chance to have their concerns formally documented because LTCOP is not sufficiently funded to carry out its oversight responsibilities. The Governor and state legislators should correct this in the next state budget.”
According to SOFA’s data, major areas of concern reported across the state include:
- Care – 1,591 complaints involving facility staff failure to provide care, including poor quality care, planning and delivery, accidents and falls, response to requests for assistance, care planning, medications, personal hygiene, access to health-related services, symptoms unattended, incontinence care, assistive devices or equipment, rehabilitation services physical restraints, chemical restraints, and infection control.
- Autonomy, Choice, Rights – 942 complaints involving facility staff failure to honor and promote a resident’s right or preferences including choice of health care, living in less restrictive setting, dignity and respect, privacy, response to complaints, retaliation, visitors, resident or family council participation, or any other rights and preferences.
- Dietary – 327 complaints regarding food service, assistance including choice, quantity and quality of food, assistance with dining or ensuring hydration, and therapeutic or special diets.
- Admission, Transfer, Discharge, Eviction – 294 complaints against facilities involving issues regarding admission, transfer, discharge and/or eviction, including appeals process and room issues.
- Abuse, Gross Neglect, Exploitation – 47 complaints including serious complaints of willful mistreatment of residents by facility staff, resident representative/ family/friend, other residents or an outside individual including physical, sexual, or psychological abuse, financial exploitation, or gross neglect.
Details for the most recent three quarters for which data is available can be found here:
What’s particularly troubling is how many additional potential complaints likely went undocumented; 52% of adult care facilities statewide and nearly 80% in New York City failed to receive a single ombudsman visit from April 1 to June 30, 2022, according to a report released in February by 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. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.