- A government program that protects older New Yorkers failed to visit more than half of the state’s nursing homes and adult care facilities earlier this year, according to a report by a group. defense.
- For example, in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties, nearly 79% of their retirement homes and adult care sites have gone months without an ombudsman visit.
- The state attributed the problems to a shortage of volunteers working on the program.
A government monitoring program that protects frail and elderly New Yorkers did not conduct visits to about 59% of nursing homes and adult care facilities during a three-month period this year.
The state’s long-term care ombudsman program’s lack of visits was revealed in a new report from AARP New York’s seniors advocate. Some of the worst performing regions included parts of the Finger Lakes, the Southern End and the Hudson Valley. Visitation data is from January to March, the most recent available.
Ombudsman programs must report facility visitation data to federal regulators, but there is no requirement establishing the minimum number of facility visits required, state officials noted in their response to recent USA Today Network surveys.
Among the communities with the highest percentages of no-visit establishments:
- Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties saw nearly 79% of their facilities unvisited.
- About 73% of facilities in Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties did not receive a visit.
- Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Tioga counties had about 68% of non-visited establishments.
- More than 96% of New York facilities have not had a visit.
How is NY Nursing Home Monitoring Failing?
The report comes after USA TODAY Network New York’s survey earlier this year revealed how and why thousands of nursing home complaints went unresolved during the COVID-19 pandemic, exposing residents to unsafe conditions.
Taken together, the revelations about the failures of the mediation program and the backlog of inspections by the state health department underscored the extent of the systemic issues putting some of New Yorkers most vulnerable at risk.
What Advocates Are Saying About Monitoring NY Nursing Homes
Advocates cited lack of visits in their calls for officials to increase state funding for the ombudsman program by $15 million in the next state budget, up from the current $4.4 million. .
The extra money would add 235 full-time staff to make regular and consistent weekly visits, the advocates said in a statement.
Beth Finkel, director of AARP in New York State, described the lack of visits to hundreds of nursing homes and adult care facilities as “appalling.”
“Residents of care homes are our parents, our grandparents, our spouses, our loved ones,” she added. “They are among the most vulnerable people in our society and they deserve better.”
State attributes lack of visits to New York nursing homes to shortage of volunteers
Roger Noyes, spokesman for the state Office on Aging, said in a statement that state officials are aware of the challenges facing the ombudsman program, which is currently driven by volunteers. .
“We are strongly committed to working with community advocates and our partners in the legislature to develop long-term solutions so that all sites in the state receive regular visits,” he added.
There are about 40 full-time and 25 part-time employees currently involved in the ombudsman program, state officials noted. It also has about 250 volunteers, which poses challenges covering the state’s 1,400 facilities, officials said.
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In addition, many volunteers are over 65 and their level of participation has dropped significantly during the pandemic, officials added, noting that ombudsman programs nationwide are struggling to attract volunteers.
A recent outreach campaign in New York tried to attract more ombudsman volunteers, garnering about 400 inquiries, but many declined after learning of the effort needed, officials said.