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Audit Reveals Shortage Of Ombudsmen In New York Long-Term Care Facilities

Tony Dejak

New Yorkers who live in long-term care facilities often do not have a voice to air quality of life grievances. That’s according to an audit released last week by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

DiNapoli says there aren’t enough ombudsmen at long-term care facilities, whether they’re paid or volunteer.

Ombudsmen are supposed to be hired at nursing homes and assisted living centers to have regular and open discussions with residents to provide advocacy and investigate complaints.

Nancy Peppard is a forensic gerontologist in East Hampton. At 70, Peppard runs an organization called the Out East Neighborhood Network that connects older residents with vetted services and care providers.

She says single people, communities of color and low-income residents on Medicaid are those who don’t receive adequate care.

“Legally, that is unlawful. Everyone is supposed to get the same level of care regardless of their ability to pay, but of course that is not what happens.”

Peppard is concerned New York might not meet federal guidelines, which could result in less grant funding for facilities.

“If they are not coming up to speed with the program, their funds will be cut even further back so they will have less paid staff. And they already now do not have enough staff to do adequate training or adequate ombuds presentation in a facility.” 

DiNapoli recommends the state Office for the Aging come up with regional strategies to bolster staffing numbers and attract trained volunteers. 

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.