Senator Rachel May (D-Onondaga, Madison, Oneida) has passed a bill to create a task force to examine some of the issues that made nursing homes and other elder care systems so vulnerable to the pandemic and to develop strategies to prevent future such problems.

The state Senate passed this legislation (S8633B/A10836) Wednesday evening.

The Reimagining Long-Term Care Task Force would examine the state of long-term care — home- and facility-based — and limitations that hamper quality care. It would look at pandemic-specific issues, as well as long-standing problems that made elder care systems so vulnerable to outbreaks during the crisis. It also would consider potential models for improvement and make recommendations for corrective measures.

“This devastating pandemic is a wake-up call for us to finally address systemic challenges that have plagued our elder care systems for too long,” said May, who chairs the Senate Committee on Aging. “Staff shortages, caregivers forced to work multiple jobs to make a living wage, lax infection controls, chronic funding issues – these and other issues exacerbated the vulnerability of older New Yorkers to this deadly virus, especially those living in nursing homes. We have a critical opportunity here, and a responsibility, to take a hard look at the whole system of long-term care and re-imagine it in a way that truly prioritizes the needs of older New Yorkers and those who care for them.”

“AARP New York has been calling for a long-term care task force for months to figure out how to prevent a repeat of the tragedy that has befallen the system during this pandemic,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “We applaud Senator May for her legislation to create one. We are especially pleased that the task force will study not only facility-based care but also home-based care, a growing industry, and that it will bring together organizations representing consumers and family caregivers, workers and providers.

“More than 6,300 New Yorkers have died in nursing homes during this pandemic, a disproportionate number of them New Yorkers of color and many of them alone. We simply cannot let that happen again, and this bill is a good start to ensure we don’t.”

The task force would include representatives from across the spectrum of care, including community-based services, home care, independent and assisted living and skilled nursing care. Members would include care workers, industry and state agency professionals, advocates and those with expertise in a wide range of relevant areas, including elder law, senior housing and racial disparities in long-term care.

The task force would report on its findings related to the pandemic by December of this year, and follow that with a full report, including recommendations for further action and legislation, by May 2021.

By martha

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