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State Urged to Increase Staff to Protect Long-Term Care Residents

The state of New York has only one paid ombudsman per 4,466 long-term care beds, less than half the recommended level. (unclelkt/Pixabay)
The state of New York has only one paid ombudsman per 4,466 long-term care beds, less than half the recommended level. (unclelkt/Pixabay)
March 14, 2018

ALBANY, N.Y. – New York needs to increase the number of people who can offer support for those in long-term care, according to advocates for older residents and people with disabilities who are delivering that message in Albany Wednesday.

The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program gives those who often can't speak for themselves a voice in enforcing their rights, safety and quality of life.

According to Susan Dooha, who heads the Center for Independence of the Disabled in New York, the federal recommendation for paid ombudsman staffing is one position for every 2,000 long-term care beds.

"In New York, we have less than half of that number, and the New York City program has one position for every 8,800 beds," she states.

The advocates are calling on the state to increase funding for the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program by $3 million a year.

There are more than 100,000 long-term care beds in New York. But Dooha points out the state contributes only 8 percent of the cost of the ombudsman program.

"We have more beds that almost any state, but we are 45th out of 50 in terms of the percentage of state funding for ombudsman services," she points out.

Nationally, the average state contribution to the program is almost 40 percent.

Dooha adds that in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult homes, ombudsmen are legally required. But without adequate state funding, many facilities struggle to maintain a regular presence.

"It is crucial that there be a watchdog and a helper and a friend to ensure that people who are in nursing facilities are safe," she stresses.

Funding for the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program goes through the state Office for the Aging.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY