AARP Arizona Calling For An Audit Of State's Long-Term Care System

Published: Friday, May 7, 2021 - 12:09pm

It’s unclear how many people living in long-term care facilities have died in Arizona. According to the COVID Tracking Project, just over 2,500 people died. But that data is incomplete. Now the head of AARP Arizona is calling for an audit of the state’s long-term care system. 

"I hope that the state is finally taking this seriously," said Kennedy.

Dana Marie Kennedy is the state director for AARP Arizona. And she’s talking about Gov. Ducey’s decision to transfer the licensing and oversight of long term care administrators to the state health department. But Kennedy wants even more.

"We really need increased funding, we need to look at staffing levels, we need to really shine a light on what happened in our long-term care facilities, after Hacienda and with COVID," she said. "And I want to make sure that this is a priority; and we are calling on the governor as well as the legislature to do an audit. 

Kennedy really wants to know how many older adults died in long-term care.

"Because of lack of transparency, we still do not know," she explained. "And to me, that's kind of maddening."

She also wants to look at how facilities are fined; how funds were spent by nursing homes during COVID, and she wants to examine sick leave policies for caregivers. 

AARP recommends anyone with a loved one in a nursing home be prepared to ask eight key questions:

  1. How far along are COVID-19 vaccinations?

  2. Has anyone at the facility tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks?

  3. What is the nursing home doing to help residents stay connected with their families or other loved ones during this time?

  4. Is the nursing home currently at full staffing levels for nurses, aides and other workers?

  5. What does the nursing home crisis look like in our state today?

  6. What more needs to be done to protect nursing home residents?

  7. How can families and caregivers advocate for their loved ones who are at risk?  What questions should caregivers be asking nursing homes at this time?

  8. Where can people go for more information and support?