State Bar Task Force Recommends Transforming Care for the Elderly To Protect Public Health and Control Contagious Infections
Reducing dependence on nursing homes in favor of smaller community-based congregate care settings and caring for the elderly at home is the top recommendation in a new report issued by the New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care.
The task force’s review of the impact of COVID-19 on nursing homes and long-term care providers examined the severe impact of COVID-19 on nursing homes and other congregate-care residents and those receiving long-term care. Efforts should be made to deinstitutionalize care for the elderly, reducing the role of nursing homes in favor of providing care in smaller, community-based residences and through home care.
“Major policy changes are necessary to help nursing home and at-risk residents survive should there be another pandemic. We cannot repeat history,” said NYSBA President T. Andrew Brown. “This timely report outlines what steps we can take to avoid another catastrophe and to enact lasting reforms to better protect vulnerable citizens in long term care.”
Created in August 2020 by Immediate Past President Scott M. Karson, the task force’s mandate was to systematically review how the long-term care sector handled the pandemic. The task force, which consulted with several experts, made both short and long-term recommendations, including proposing changes to the health care system.
Among the task force’s recommendations:
- Increase staff wage rates to minimize turnover and improve the quality of care.
- Ensure proper staff training on the basics of handwashing, personal protective equipment and disinfection.
- Allocate resources to make long-term care needs a priority.
- Address under-performing nursing homes, whose performance jeopardizes the health of residents.
- Establish a top-level infection control officer.
- Create COVID-19 or similar infectious disease-only floors or wards to limit the spread of infectious diseases.
“One of government’s most basic responsibilities is to protect public health. Our experience with COVID-19 compels us to rethink the delivery of long-term care,” said Hermes Fernandez, co-chair of the task force. “We must ensure that laws and policies guarantee equitable access to high quality care.”
“COVID-19 has been a challenge for congregate care providers, but nursing homes, bringing large numbers of susceptible individuals together, have faced the most challenges,” said Sandra D. Rivera, co-chair of the task force. “While there are no quick fixes, there can be improvements both short-term and long-term.”
The report, approved by the NYSBA House of Delegates on June 12, can be viewed here.
About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.
Contact: Brandon Vogel