It is no secret that residents of nursing homes in New York state have been especially hard hit by COVID-19.
These individuals, the most vulnerable among us, are suffering and dying in record numbers, and we can’t look the other way any longer.
The pandemic did not create the problems in our nursing homes.
It merely made them more visible.
For far too long, seniors and people with disabilities living in group settings have suffered from understaffing, poor infection control practices, and lack of oversight and enforcement in these settings, all of which jeopardize their health and safety.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has been particularly deadly for those working and living in nursing homes.
But devastating numbers of people have been dying needlessly in nursing homes for years.
The state needs to properly provide and promote the services that allow seniors and people with disabilities to live in their own homes.
New York state must invest extensively and immediately to make home and community-based services easier to obtain.
Independent living centers across the state provide advocacy, services and support that allow individuals to live fully independent, integrated lives in their communities.
These can be a large part of the solution.
If you want to help in this effort, I urge you to contact your state legislators and insist that the state invest in community-based programs that offer choice, independence and safety so New Yorkers can live at home, not in a home.
The writer is the executive director of the Northern Regional Center for Independent Living.