Syracuse, NY – Today, Senator Rachel May (D-Onondaga, Madison, Oneida) is proud to announce the passage of two of her bills in the Senate. Both bills will improve outreach and education that is critical to older New Yorkers and their loved ones.
The bills are:
- S.4377 — Requires translations of a patient’s rights into the six most common non-English languages of New York State; and relates to the posting of information relating to the long-term care ombudsman program.
- S.4412 — Establishes an Alzheimer’s disease outreach and education program.
New York State’s Long-term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) was established more than four decades ago as part of the federal Older Americans Act. Its purpose, in the state program’s own words, is to advocate “for residents by investigating and resolving complaints made by or on behalf of residents; promoting the development of resident and family councils; and informing government agencies, providers, and the general public about issues and concerns impacting residents of long-term care facilities.” The effectiveness of the program, however, relies on an assumption that residents and families know of the program and its services and on the existence of effective two-way channels of communication between LTCOP staff and volunteers and the Department of Health, to which complaints are funneled for investigation and resolution. Significant evidence and testimonials from family members and ombuds volunteers indicate that neither of these assumptions are being met.
This bill calls for specific measures to better inform families and nursing home residents of the existence of the LTCOP by requiring that informational fliers be posted in each resident’s rooms. Currently, such information is most commonly posted in a single common area, such as an elevator lobby, and possibly included in a packet of information for families at the time of admission. Nevertheless, time and again, we have heard that family members were unaware they had access to an ombudsman to address issues or concerns relating to a loved one’s care. We have heard from family councils that wondered why the information could not be posted in individual rooms rather than distributed in a packet of material that is rarely at hand or recalled if/when issues about care arise down the road. The bill also would assure that the Resident’s Bill of Rights is available to residents in the six most common non-English languages in the state.
According to the New York State Task Force on Alzheimer’s disease and other Dementias, 300,000 older New York State residents have dementia and this number is projected to continue growing rapidly. Coined “The Disease of the Century”, the challenges that New York is and will continue to face in serving this population and caregivers will continue to grow. Fortunately, there is growing research and best practices that have helped better identify persons with Alzheimer’s disease, better care for persons with Alzheimer’s disease, provide better support services for caregivers and provide packages of services that delay nursing home placements. As the population ages, it is important to provide appropriate information and assistance, training and outreach and education to providers of services and to the general public in order to ensure that identification and intervention occur earlier and families are linked with the appropriate support to help provide a good quality of life for the individual with the disease.
“Older New Yorkers and their families need to have access to information on many topics in order to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved ones,” said Senator Rachel May, Chair of the Senate Aging Committee. “Both of these bills aim to make critical information more widely and easily accessible. I am proud to have sponsored both of these bills and am very happy to have them both pass in the Senate today. The Legislature must continue to do all it can to make our state better for our growing aging population.”