Do Cameras in Nursing Homes Prevent Nursing Home Abuse?

Illinois Debates Nursing Home Prevention Versus Privacy Concerns with Cameras in Nursing Homes

cameras in nursing homesLawmakers in Illinois are currently debating the benefits and detriments of placing cameras in nursing homes, as a nursing home abuse prevention bill makes its way through the state’s senate.

Opponents of the bill, many of whom are elder care advocates, raised concerns about seniors’ privacy. If cameras are placed in the houses and nursing home rooms of elderly patients, who require care from caregivers or trained nursing staff, the footage could be unintentionally used by voyeurs or crooks.

However, many proponents of the Illinois bill point to the times when camera footage helped catch elder and nursing home abuse perpetrators. For example, recently in Wisconsin, a woman noticed that nearly $300 had been removed from her frail, elderly mother’s bank account. The mother had been committed to a long term care facility after she was ruled incompetent to care for herself, due to dementia and becoming wheelchair-bound. Camera footage clearly showed a nurse from the facility stealing the victim’s debit card, which led to financial nursing home abuse charges against the former employee.

In another recent case, this time in Staten Island, NY, a 99-year-old who was under constant supervision from a caregiving agency in his home died from caregiver neglect, after he fell repeatedly. His family had set up cameras in their father’s house to monitor the caregiving agency, and found that three of their elderly relative’s caregivers blatantly failed or refused to assist their ward, allowing him to fall, which led to bruises, fractures, and a head injury that ultimately killed him.

If the bill passes, Illinois may become the fifth state to allow cameras to detect caregiver and nursing home abuse and neglect. Currently, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington all allow family members to place cameras in nursing home rooms of elderly relatives and in homes. The footage is only reviewed under specific criminal circumstances, such as nursing home abuse investigations.

“The work that I have done … as attorney general has unfortunately proven that too often when our loved ones are in a nursing home, they are not always safe and they are not always well cared for,” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in announcing the proposal on Monday, September 22nd.

However, opponents argue that the elderly, regardless of mental or physical capacity, are still citizens with rights. “In a lot of cases nobody knows what the person who is impacted by this law wants,” said Kathy Swanson, regional ombudsman for suburban Cook County for the Legal Assistance Foundation, a senior advocacy organization in Illinois.

South Carolina nearly became the fifth state to allow cameras in nursing homes, but on Thursday, March 20th, a bill that would give families the ability to electronically monitor their loved ones to prevent or detect nursing home abuse stalled in the South Carolina senate. The SC Senate’s Medical Affairs Committee was evenly divided on the bill, 7 to 7, preventing its advancement onto the Senate floor. The bill will return to subcommittee for more work, but proponents are concerned that it will fail there.

The nursing home abuse bill, modeled after similar bills in Texas and Oklahoma, would allow residents and their families to install cameras in their rooms to detect potential nursing home abuse. Video evidence often corroborates claims by elderly residents, and can speed up an investigation or lawsuit into the care facility’s practices. The South Carolina bill would require the permission of the resident, as well as permission from the other resident of the room of two people shared a space.

The Strom Law Defends Victims of Nursing Home Abuse

If your loved one has faced nursing home abuse, you do not have to suffer in silence. Contact the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm for a free, confidential consultation. We are here to help. 803.252.4800.

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