ALBANY, N.Y., Feb. 17, 2021 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — AARP New York today called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to include in his 2021-22 State Budget proposal a Five-Point Nursing Home Reform Plan to require minimum hours of direct care and increased staffing levels in nursing homes, ensure visitation and transparency, restore families’ legal recourse, and invest in cost-effective services that help New Yorkers remain at home.

AARP sent a letter to the Governor urging him to include the reforms in his 30-day Executive Budget amendments.

“The nursing home crisis is front and center in this State, as it should be; now, through the State Budget, is the time and way to end it,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “We should not waste this golden opportunity to improve safety and conditions for our mothers, fathers, grandparents, spouses and other loved ones in New York’s nursing homes – and for the staff who care for them.” 

The Five-Point Plan for nursing homes and other adult care facilities would address:

  1. Quality Care, by requiring nursing homes to spend more on direct care and increase staffing levels; ensure strict compliance with infectious disease controls; and provide regular and ongoing testing, adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), and oversight through in-person access by formal advocates known as long-term care ombudsmen – including increasing staffing for the LTC Ombudsman program.
  2. Retroactive Repeal of Legal Immunity, by no longer shielding long-term care facilities for any negligent care delivered earlier in pandemic. Pursuing legal action is not an easy thing to do, and no family member who has lost a loved one due to neglect or abuse pursues this course of action lightly. It is always an option of last resort and must remain an option for families.
  3. Transparency, through requiring daily reporting of data on fatalities and infectious disease rates of staff and residents in all nursing homes and adult care facilities with a publicly available annual report to the Legislature.
  4. Home-and Community-Based Services, by increasing State funding by $27 million to help New Yorkers remain in their own homes, as the vast majority want, and out of potentially unsafe nursing homes. This funding would help end waiting lists for over 10,000 people seeking these services, which support family caregivers in helping older loved ones avoid costlier, mostly taxpayer-funded nursing homes.
  5. Visitation, by ensuring safe in-person and virtual visitation, including compassionate care visits, and thus addressing one of the biggest concerns AARP has heard from our members during the pandemic. Social interaction with family and friends is critical to the health and wellbeing of residents. In addition to the social connectivity and emotional support they provide, visitors are key members of the resident care team.

AARP New York also supports a package of nursing home reform legislation under consideration by the New York State Senate.

AARP New York recently joined with healthcare workers union 1199SEIU and nursing home consumer advocate The Long Term Care Community Coalition to urge minimum hours of care and other reforms in a letter to Governor Cuomo, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

“What has happened to our loved ones in nursing homes during the past 11 months is a tragedy,” added Finkel. “AARP New York stands ready to work with the Governor and Legislature to ensure it stops now and never happens again.”

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