Lifton Introduces Legislation to Improve Health and Social Services for Rural Seniors

February 11, 2004

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D/WFP-Tompkins/Cortland) introduced new legislation that would improve the quality of health and social services provided to senior citizens in New York’s rural communities (A.9671).

"Seniors in rural areas are no less deserving of quality care than seniors in large metropolitan areas, but rural communities face unique challenges in providing services," Lifton said. "By providing technical support and helping small communities find solutions to common challenges, we can begin to improve necessary services for seniors living in rural New York."

In 2000, over 450,000 rural county residents in New York were ages 65 and over, accounting for nearly 14 percent of the rural population. Lifton’s bill would provide training in elderly support services such as recreation, income assistance, transportation, wellness education, long-term home health care, supportive housing and institutional care.

The legislation utilizes the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute (ICGI) to assist in planning and implementing training programs for home health care workers, social workers and other workers who provide aging services. The Institute will also help rural communities establish networks between one another – helping the communities share information and training to continue improving senior citizen services.

"Rural communities face many challenges recruiting and retaining front-line workers, like home health care providers, certified nursing assistants, registered nurses and social workers who take care of seniors," Lifton said. "By utilizing the ICGI we will be doing more than simply training workers on aging issues. We will be creating a network that allows rural areas to share their knowledge and skills –building morale among front-line workers and promoting ongoing improvement in elder services."