January 27, 2023

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (December 2, 2022) – AARP New Jersey, national policy experts, state decision makers, advocates and industry representatives came together today to discuss small nursing homes as a new model for transforming New Jersey’s long-term care facilities.

The roundtable, hosted by AARP New Jersey at The Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick, comes just days after Gov. Murphy announced an independent review of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including another look at the Responding to Vulnerable Residents in Care Facilities. The June 2020 Mannatt Report highlights that residents and employees are particularly at risk of an infectious disease outbreak because many New Jersey facilities have three or four beds per room.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated longstanding deficiencies in our long-term care system,” said Stephanie Hunsinger, AARP New Jersey State Director of Advocacy. “Tragically, more than 9,800 New Jersey long-term care residents and staff have died during this pandemic, prompting a growing number of individuals and families to seek alternatives to traditional institutional care facilities.”

New Jersey Department of Health Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli opened the roundtable by discussing the status of New Jersey’s long-term care system as well as the state’s commitment to helping residents make more informed decisions about choosing a nursing home and being Commitment to housing highlighted needs of older New Jerseyers, including more long-term care options.

“Small nursing homes can play a critical role in transforming our long-term service and support system,” said Katie York, associate state director of advocacy for AARP New Jersey. “Small home care homes are structures with fewer residents and a type of housing for people who need care at the care level. The homes are built to look and function like homes in a community and are shaped by three core values: Real Home, Meaningful Living and Competent Employees.”

“As we’ve seen throughout the COVID crisis, a serious transformation of New Jersey’s long-term care system is needed to provide safer, higher-quality care for residents,” said Laurie Facciarossa Brewer, NJ Long-Term Care Ombudsman. “Part of that transformation needs to be reducing the impact of nursing homes and transforming existing facilities into more livable, person-centric spaces. Greenhouse and other small nursing home models have been very successful in achieving these goals in other states and should be developed in New Jersey as well.”

One of the main topics discussed during the event was how small home care homes have a fundamentally different staffing model with a person-centred approach. The direct caregivers are trained to become certified care assistants and receive additional training in meal preparation, laundry, housekeeping and activities.

The design gives direct caregivers more responsibility as they work as a self-managed team and are empowered to make decisions and accountable for the residents’ quality of life. Direct caregivers work alongside the clinical team to deliver the services residents receive and manage the home and daily schedules to best respond to residents’ decisions and needs.

“This design allows each staff member to respond to a specific resident’s needs in the moment, which is a marked difference from the model often used by larger nursing homes,” said Susan Reinhard, senior vice president and director of AARP Public Policy Institutes. “In larger nursing homes, staff typically only perform one or two roles for a large number of residents; A worker has to bring someone else in when a resident needs something that they are not assigned to do.”

Speakers at today’s roundtable included Stephanie Hunsinger, AARP New Jersey State Director; Judith Persichilli, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health; Susan Reinhard, Vice President and Director of the AARP Public Policy Institute; Rep. Angela McKnight, chair of the NJ Assembly Aging and Senior Services Committee; Laurie Brewer, New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman; Robert Jenkens, Jenkens Consulting LLC; and Rebecca Priest, project coach at the Green House Project.

“Housing for seniors is high on my list of priorities in the General Assembly, so I commend AARP for bringing together an impressive group of stakeholders to discuss this innovative housing alternative,” said New Jersey Rep. Angela McKnight. Chair of the Assembly Aging and Senior Services Committee. “The small home nursing home model shows great promise for providing seniors with more personalized care and better working environments for staff. I look forward to continuing this conversation and exploring ways to further develop this concept in New Jersey.”

“Our mission is to give people the power to choose how they live as they age,” said Hunsinger. “Small home care homes not only provide a better quality of care for the individual, but also a better quality of life while providing higher levels of employee satisfaction. We look forward to further discussions on how we can support the development of small home care homes in New Jersey.”

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About AARP New Jersey
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people age 50 and older to choose how they want to live in old age. AARP New Jersey educates and advocates on behalf of the over-50s on issues important to them, their families and all residents of the Garden State. The organization works to strengthen New Jersey communities with a focus on health security, financial stability, and personal fulfillment. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org/nj or follow @AARPNJ on social media.

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