More than 150,000 older New Yorkers and those living with disabilities, live in nursing homes, assisted living, and other licensed adult care homes throughout the city and state. To these facilities are assigned hundreds of certified volunteer Ombudsmen. For some residents, they are the only interaction in a given day. For others, they are the only voice speaking on their behalf. Their work is critically important. This week the Senate passed my bill to update, and strengthen this program.
The Ombudsmen Program came about in 1965, one of many Great Society measures first envisioned by President Kennedy, to be championed by President Johnson. It dealt specifically with a need for community-based long-term care and services for aging Americans. To help carry out, and monitor this important function, an ombudsmen program was established; they are the voice of the voiceless.
While this bill is a simple matter of updating state law to coincide with federal law. It’s about much more than that. It will empowers ombudsmen. It ensures they have access to facilities and residents. It also ensure the residents have access to ombudsmen and with it the right to quality care and standard of living.
Federal and state law guarantees these basic rights and standards of elderly care. However, ombudsmen ensure them. Every day, across the state, these certified volunteers work with long-term care residents and their families to advocate on behalf of some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers. They police basic human decency and the quality of life we all demand and deserve.