In an extensive report on the impact of the deadly coronavirus on long-term care facilities in New York, a New York State Bar Association recommended moving away from the current nursing home model of senior care.
State Senator Joe Pennacchio lauded the investigation by the NJSBA’s Task Force on Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care and its support for caring for seniors at home or in smaller community-based congregate care settings as the best way to avoid another catastrophe.
“After COVID infiltrated the nursing homes in both New Jersey and New York and seniors had no way to protect themselves, it was obvious we needed an alternative for our most vulnerable citizens,” Pennacchio said. “Clearly, older residents can benefit emotionally, physically and financially from being cared for by their adult children. To help make it possible for more families to live under the same roof, I introduced legislation that has passed both houses unanimously and awaits the Governor’s signature.”
Pennacchio’s bill, S-2727, would establish the Multigenerational Family Housing Continuity Commission to study and make recommendations on how to most effectively advance multigenerational family housing opportunities.
“This is something we can do right now to help prevent a repeat of the nursing home tragedy that claimed so many lives,” said Pennacchio. “It’s crucial that we get away from the one-size-fits-all approach to long-term care that failed miserably during COVID.”
The Commission would provide recommendations for accommodating multi-generation housing in communities.
“The suggestions would give the Administration and the Legislature the opportunity to do some good things and work together toward a common goal,” Pennacchio noted.
A press release from the NYSBA announcing the release of the 242-page New York report said that in order to protect public health and prevent contagious infection, “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.”
“We hope Governor Murphy appreciates the urgency and signs my bill into law, so we don’t lose anymore time. It is vital that we learn from our pandemic experience and have better solutions in place in case we ever face another deadly health emergency,” Pennacchio said. “This is a sensible first step that can help keep seniors safe and save lives.”
The Senator noted that in many locations across the state, rigid municipal regulations prevent multi-generational housing, leaving seniors with no option but to enter a long-term care facility.
“If children want to keep their parents close by, government shouldn’t stand in the way. Multi-generational living will make it more practical for families who want to keep their loved ones safe,” said Pennacchio.
To get people out of the nursing homes, Pennacchio also suggested the state could emulate the community-based housing model for special needs residents. To encourage localities to welcome seniors, the Senator proposed allowing COAH credits for each individual in the home.