Good News Following Ulster County Nursing Home Sale?

The face of New York nursing home care has been changing in recent years. The traditional model of individual counties throughout the state owning and operating facilities to provide care to ailing seniors is being phased out in may places. Instead, the counties are selling the homes to private companies to operate. The moves are spurred in almost all cases by financial realities–the facilities are too expensive for the county to operate.

Understandably, elder advocates worry about the effect of the change on senior care. In the past, some analyses have suggested that privately-run nursing homes, on average, show more “deficiencies” than their public counterparts. The assumption is that private homes are motivated by profit and more willing to cut resources to residents and refuse to pay wages for the best caregivers in order to boost their bottom line.

But is is important to remember that no two homes are identical, and “averages” do not mean that all privately run homes are rampant with neglect and need to be avoided. Early reports out of Ulster County, for example, offer a hopeful reminder that quality decreases may not automatically follow private nursing homes sales.

So Far, So Good
As reported by the Oneida Dispatch, many residents of the Golden Hill Health Care Facility are happy with the operation at the facility since it was sold to a private company six months ago. The head of the Residents’ Council explained that, since the change, more staff members had been hired, including physical and occupational therapists. In addition, the resident suggested that other aspects of the operations, from the food to building cleanliness, had improved since the take-over. According to the most recent state on-site review of the home (in September) the facility was in full compliance with state and federal caregiving requirements.

There was aggressive push-back when the county board was debating the sale in 2011 and 2012, based mostly on concerns about potential decrease in quality of care. Advocates for the county-employees at the facility argue that it is still too early to tell whether the long-term care at the facility will be affected by the change.

It is impossible to draw general conclusions about care quality from a single New York nursing home. But this situation is a helpful reminder of the fact that quality varies considerably from facility to facility. Not all private homes are bad, and not all public facilities are superior. Those making choices are urged to be diligent in reviewing their caregiving options.

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If you have questions about selecting a nursing home or applying for Medicaid in New York in order to pay for nursing home care, please contact our elder law attorneys today to see how we can help.

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