Many people suffer in nursing homes either from abuse or neglect. Nationally, more than 1 in 5 Medicare recipients do, according to a 2014 study from the federal Department of Health and Human Services. Almost 60 percent of those abuse or neglect cases could have been prevented. The harm came from “substandard treatment, inadequate resident monitoring, and failure or delay of necessary care,” according to the study.

Under a measure advancing in the Louisiana statehouse, families would be able to install video cameras in loved ones’ nursing home rooms.  Under the legislation, nursing homes would be prohibited from denying entrance or retaliating against residents who opt for monitoring devices.  The cameras would be voluntary. Costs would have to be paid by the nursing home patient or family member. Any roommate would have to agree to the installation.

Rep. Helena Moreno (D-New Orleans) said her proposal would offer peace of mind to family members monitoring a parent or grandparent while also ensuring residents’ safety.  “What’s wrong with just having an extra set of eyes, with having a loved one being able to check up on you?” Moreno said.

Missouri is also considering allowing video cameras in nursing home rooms.  See article here.  Two bills have been introduced in the Missouri House this year allowing cameras in nursing home rooms, which advocates say could help prevent elder abuse. One would give families the ability to install cameras and mandate that nursing homes couldn’t prevent the installation. The other, which has already been handed over to the Senate, would give nursing homes the final say.

AARP, the Missouri Coalition for Quality Care and VOYCE, a St. Louis-based organization that sends volunteers to inspect nursing homes, supported the version giving families more power. That version received a public hearing last week but, so far, isn’t scheduled to be debated on the floor. Less than two months remain in the legislative session.

In-room cameras would go a long way toward giving residents and their family members a greater sense of security and could deter potential abuse or neglect, said Mary Lynn Faunda Donovan, VOYCE’s executive director.

“Surveillance cameras are not a suitable replacement for the personal involvement of the staff and family members,” she said. However, “video can provide compelling evidence” of abuse or neglect.  “A camera in the room could exonerate a staff member from any accusations of wrongdoing,” she said. “It works for both sides.”

As of 2017, five other states had nursing home camera laws, with additional rules for assisted living in two.  Andrew Muhl, advocacy director for AARP Louisiana, called it “a very common-sense approach.”

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