Nursing Home Residents Suffer as State Oversight Program Funding Falls Short

By AARP NY | April 1, 2024

ALBANY, N.Y. –  Even as thousands of New York nursing home residents report poor care, treatment and staffing issues, Governor Hochul’s state budget proposal continues to short-change the very program that provides essential advocacy and oversight for these vulnerable aging adults – the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP).

Not only does the Governor cut the program’s funding for 2024-2025, but neither she nor the State Office for the Aging (SOFA) offer a plan to ensure the over 160,000 older New Yorkers in adult care facilities – including 600-plus nursing homes – receive regular ombudsman services.

SOFA houses the required LTCOP that is supposed to send ombudsmen weekly to the state’s nearly 1,400 nursing homes and other adult care facilities to address residents’ complaints and concerns. SOFA’s own numbers, posted on its website, indicate that from January 2023 to June 2023 – when only 12% of facilities received a weekly visit – close to 5,700 complaints were made. These complaints include physical abuse, poor facility management, gross neglect, failure to help with personal hygiene and medications, as well as failing to respect residents’ rights and choices.

And yet, even as LTCOP clearly falls well short of its goal of weekly visits to all facilities, Hochul proposes no additional funding. The Legislature is currently trying to fill in the fiscal gaps in its budget plan.

AARP New York and other advocates for the aging call for $15 million to allow LTCOP to hire and train more professional ombudsmen, who are effectively the eyes and ears for residents of adult residential care facilities. Currently, the program is balanced on the backs of volunteers who cannot meet the demand for weekly visits.

“In just six months, an understaffed and underfunded LTCOP recorded close to 6,000 complaints by residents of nursing homes and other adult care facilities. We can only imagine the magnitude of the issues that are not being reported because so many facilities aren’t being visited on a weekly basis,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “And yet, year after year, our state government refuses to do its part by making sure this program is staffed and funded at full strength. But it’s not too late for the Governor and Legislature to include adequate funding for LTCOP’s needs in the ongoing budget negotiations.”

According to SOFA, the top three complaints ombudsmen filed from January 2023 to June 2023 were:

Poor Quality Care (1,997): Including response to accidents and falls, requests for assistance, medications, personal hygiene, overlooked symptoms

Inadequate Respect for Rights and Dignity (1,015):   Including failure to honor and promote a resident’s preferences in health care, request for a less restrictive setting, privacy, response to complaints

Facility Policy and Practices, Staffing Issues (543): Including deficiencies by facility owners and administrators in oversight, fiscal management and staffing.

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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to the more than 100 million Americans 50-plus and their families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the nation’s largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit,ñol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspañol and @AARPadvocates on social media.