(ALBANY, N.Y.)  More than 70 organizations have endorsed 12 vital policy recommendations to reorient New York’s system of long-term care from congregate facilities to community-based services, supports, and housing for older adults and people with disabilities.  The petition, with specific recommendations on needed changes, was sent today to Governor Andrew Cuomo and various executive branch administrators; Speaker Carl Heastie; Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins; and the Assembly and Senate Committees on Aging, Health, and Mental Hygiene.

The petition and recommendations grew out of a statewide coalition effort to respond to ongoing and inherent systemic concerns embodied in congregate care, such as infection control and prevention deficiencies, unsafe levels of staffing, and now widespread illness and death due to, most recently, COVID-19.  The petition emphasizes the promise of the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision holding that people with disabilities who can and wish to live in the community must not live in segregated institutional settings, and that the choice of where to live and receive needed supports should be recognized as a basic human right for all New Yorkers.

“Reacting to the latest tragedy in congregate facilities with more money isn’t solving the root causes of the problems faced in long-term care. We’ve been doing that for decades,” said Lindsay Heckler from The Center for Elder Law & Justice.

The recommendations focus on eliminating policies that create an institutional bias and increase barriers to community living, while also expanding community-based services, supports and housing opportunities for New Yorkers who are disabled and/or are older adults. They aim to construct a framework to build a better overall system of care by leveraging existing programs and policies, instead of trying to build perfect institutions, which has been tried and failed over many decades in New York.

Bryan O'Malley, executive director of the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Association of New York State, said, "Putting more money into nursing homes in response to the devastation of COVID-19 would be akin to having watched the Hindenburg disaster and doubling down on dirigibles. This petition calls for a future that reimagines long-term supports and services for seniors and people with disabilities to build back better, rather than repeating the mistakes of the past."

The full petition with recommendations: