State Budget Cuts Threaten Nursing Home Oversight Programs

Scheduled budget cuts in one state may cause some of the sickest and loneliest people in that state to suffer the most. The cuts will reduce the number of trained advocates who visit nursing homes to expose and prevent abuse and neglect.

“We’ve always been under-funded, but this will be brutal,” said the president of the state's Association of Long-Term Care Ombudsmen.

Funding for the state’s long-term care ombudsman program, which received $2.34 million in state and federal funds during the past year, will drop to $1.9 million over the next 12 months because of state government’s financial crisis.

The ombudsman program operates with 50 to 60 part- and full-time advocates employed at not-for-profit agencies around the state. Most ombudsmen earn less than $42,000 a year, said a state Department on Aging employee who oversees the statewide program.

She said the 19 percent funding cut will result in layoffs and reductions in staff hours for people who regularly visit facilities, talk with residents and act as frontline watchdogs over an industry that serves more than 100,000 residents in 1,500 nursing homes, assisted-living and supportive-living centers.

The number of available volunteers — who currently number 225 statewide — also will drop, she said, and, with oversight reduced, “the level of care will go down.”

“Services for residents are going to be drastically cut because we’re not going to get this money,” said a regional ombudsman whose office has two full-time and two part-time workers. “Every time we go in a nursing home, I really think we are helping residents, and I think we may be saving someone’s life.” For more, read the story.

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Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

 

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