New York does not have a very commendable track record when it comes to nursing home quality. AARP rankings last year placed our state near the very bottom in a range of quality measurements for long-term care facilities. Our New York elder law attorneys appreciate that it is the dismal reputation of life at so many long-term care homes that spur residents to explore all other options to meet their senior care needs.
Almost everyone wants to live in their own home as long as possible. If they cannot, the next best choice is usually some form of assisted living arrangement that provides the maximum privacy and autonomy. It is only when that cannot be obtained–for either financial, medical, or logistical reasons–that many families turn to traditional nursing homes. Unfortunately, because of the poor care provided at so many of these locations, the seniors forced to live in the homes often admit to decreases in their overall well-being and quality of life. In the worst cases these residents fall victim to nursing home abuse and neglect.
Fortunately, the state’s track record in this regard has not gone unnoticed by some lawmakers. According to an article this week from Nurse.com, some New York legislators are considering a new measure which would increased nursing staff requirements at both hospitals and nursing homes. The bill–Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act–would mandate various one-on-one staff hours for each nursing home resident depending on the conditions faced by the resident. The measure is modeled after similar laws in California that have been tested and shown to reduce harm and death caused by inattentive staff members at these facilities. Many of the most common symptoms of neglect, like pressure ulcers, dehydration, and malnutrition, are directly attributable to inadequate staffing levels.
While the consideration of the bill is an encouraging step, each New York elder law attorney knows that it is never easy to get a proposal like this through the state government process. Committees in both chambers have the measure set for consideration but have yet to vote. Similar bills were proposed last year but both died in committee. As with so many proposals which would affect New York senior care, the main concern seems to be the potential cost. Some hospitals and long-term care facilities worry that cash-strapped facilities cannot afford increased nursing levels. However, supporters of the bill counter that providing better care actually leads to decreased healthcare complications and overall savings on medical expenses.
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