Residents of nursing homes and adult care facilities in New York State can now designate one or two personal caregivers who can visit them thanks to legislation introduced by Senator Rachel May. The goal of the bill is to maintain residents’ well-being and to prevent isolation from loved ones both now, and in any future pandemics. Governor Cuomo signed May’s bill into law this week. She has been hearing about the agony families have been through in the past and how hard it’s been on nursing home residents.
“People were refusing to eat. They were showing very marked cognitive decline. They were depressed. They were not thriving.”
May says getting families in to see their loved ones was really a life-or-death issue. She says people were putting their loved ones in Hospice care much earlier than they normally would have—just so they weren’t alone.
“It was a decision that they would rather have a shorter life with their loved ones nearby, than a longer life in isolation.”
May says family members are likely the ones who will be the most cautious about not spreading COVID-19. Plus, more staff are getting vaccinated. Other states have similar laws, but May says New York didn’t open the doors to nursing homes, until recently.
“New York was very weary, partly because the results in nursing homes had been so dire early on in the pandemic.”
May adds the law stresses that by allowing personal caregivers in, it doesn’t mean nursing homes have less of a responsibility for care. Regulations for the new law will be made over the next 45 days.