Beefing Up New York Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs

Over the last few years elder care advocates have issued a steady drumbeat of concern: mistreatment of seniors is on the rise. The rates of neglect and abuse are not necessarily rising, but the total number of seniors affected are–a product of the changing demographics. The problem is only expected to get worse in the coming years.

It is important to keep in mind that research consistently shows that even “minor” forms of neglect can prove deadly. The U.S. Department of Human Services’ Administration for Community Living points out the stark difference in morbidity rates for abused versus non-abused seniors. Even when split only between those who received adequate care and those who received “modest forms of abuse” there is a 300% increase in the death rate for the mistreated seniors.

In other words, even small difference between the quality of long-term care facilities–both nursing homes and less-intensive assisted living facilities–can have life or death consequences. All of this makes the process of choosing a proper facility a critical task for seniors and their families.

Senior Care Advocacy Program
Fears about a rise in elder neglect is leading the Administration for Community Living to propose more detail guidelines regarding the operation of Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) programs. The programs have been around for decades in every state, including New York. They are intended to act as a counterweight, advocating for the public policy interests of nursing home residents.

However, in recent years many have voiced concern about a haphazard approach to LTCO operations. There is not much uniformity in the roles of advocates and volunteers. There are also different approaches to how resident complaints are handled and the proper way that the ombudsman should mediate possible conflicts.

To address these concerns, the Administration for Community Living recently announced its plan to release more detailed instructions to provide clarity on the role of these programs. The specific proposed rules are set to be released this week. After that, a sixty day window will open where members of the public can provide comment on those possible changes. The specific proposal can be found here.

Hopefully greater clarity in this regard will ensure that all New York resident in these living locations have access to the quality advocacy they need to prevent mistreatment and demand accountability following abuse.

If you or a family member has questions about what preparatory steps can be taken now to plan ahead for possible long-term care needs in the future, please contact our team of NY elder law attorneys to see how we can help.

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