Gray Panthers NYC recently learned that some lawmakers are making noise to push for increased funding for nursing home oversight.
Gray Panthers NYC unambiguously supports this. We urge the State Legislature and the Governor, in whatever budgetary agreement they reach in the coming weeks, to ensure much improved funding for oversight of New York’s nursing homes.
As it stands, oversight relies on New York State’s long-term care ombudsman program, which leans heavily on federal funding as well as volunteers. We appreciate the work that volunteers try to do in ensuring nursing home oversight, but the professionalized support that many in the program get is extremely inadequate. As a result, the oversight itself is nowhere near as sufficient as it should be, resulting in nursing home residents themselves suffering from dismal care.
Adequate professional staff to supplement the volunteers in the program—which is how Gray Panthers NYC hopes any additional funding gets used—would also help make sure that the more challenging nursing home oversight cases are taken on by people who have the knowledge, training, and experience to handle such cases. Asking volunteers to take on complex, challenging oversight cases, especially without the adequate training or support from professionals, is doing an injustice to the volunteers themselves—volunteers who, by and large, are well-meaning and want to do everything they can to help.
The aim is to make sure that nursing homes are serving their residents better than they may be now, and that bad nursing homes are held accountable, thus saving lives. After all, it is all about saving lives, even taking into account the factor of COVID-19 deaths.