In a report on the unbelievable abuse against nursing home residents, Fox 4 in Dallas details the shocking and alarming treatment that four residents suffered at the hands of caregivers.  The original report, in video format, shows videos and photographs of the abused. The photos are shocking, detailing injuries that arose from workers’ abuse and carelessness, but the videos are much worse.

Three videos detail the horrendous treatment that these gentle vulnerable residents suffered. Among the abuses were pinching, slapping, name calling, hair pulling, and general roughness. Minnie Graham suffered numerous abuses at the hands of her caregivers, two of whom consistently used unnecessary force when handling her, and one slapped her in the face multiple times in the course of a few minutes. Her helpless cry of ‘Somebody help me’ is heart wrenching. When she gathered the courage to say something back to her tormenters, the aide shoved his middle finger in her face. Mrs. Graham died about a month later. Her granddaughters, who had placed the hidden camera in her room and captured the abuse, said that they believe she died because of a broken spirit.

The authoritative body in Texas never charged Winters Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center with anything. Had the home been charged, they would have faced a paltry fine. Texas, like South Carolina, is among the lowest states in the nation for nursing home fines. If the facility agreed to pay the fine, another 35% would have been taken off. In Texas, the home is responsible for the abuse, and when paying the price, they get a discount.

The two aides who abused Mrs. Graham still held their licenses, one even worked at another nursing home. Fox 4 asked the police why one aide had never been arrested. The police response: We couldn’t find her. But Fox 4 found her – at the same address that was listed in her records. The lack of concern for prosecuting this woman, investigating the home, and enforcing the rights of nursing home residents reveals a terrifying lack of consideration for the elderly on all levels, the nursing home, the police, and even the department responsible for nursing home regulations and investigations.

Many times, reading the statistics, or looking at figures of beds and financial costs, it is easy to forget the reason that nursing homes exist: to care for those who cannot care for themselves. However, when the care that one is receiving more closely resembles abuse than assistance, it is clear that nursing homes need to constantly be reminded that their residents are people. They hear, they talk, they feel. They should be treated like the human beings that they are. Instead, they are treated as less than human, simply because they cannot fight back. Don’t let this become your mother, or your father, or you.

CTV News reported that four employees from St. Joseph’s at Fleming long- term care facility in Ontario, Canada have been suspended with pay after video footage showed them abusing a patient. The footage was captured by Camille Parent, who installed a camera in the room of his mother, Hellen MacDonald, an 85 year-old patient at St. Joseph’s suffering from dementia. Parent was prompted to install the camera after his mother suffered a suspicious black eye.

The footage shows a staff member blowing his nose in Mrs. MacDonald’s sheets while making her bed, another staff member changing her diaper with the door open, and yet another shoving a rag covered in fecal matter in Mrs. MacDonald’s face. The incidents all occurred within a period of three weeks.

In 2010, the Long- Term Care Homes Act was passed, enacting a zero tolerance for abuse policy in Ontario extended care facilities. When asked whether or not the footage depicted what he would classify as abuse, Alan Cavell, CEO of St. Joseph’s, told CTV news, “I don’t want to give my opinion directly. I would think that most people would say that it was.” Investigations are under way by both St. Joseph’s and the Ontario Ministry of Health.

CTV News reported that there were over 10,000 incidents of seniors suffering abuse in nursing homes in Canada last year. In light of these disturbing figures, Parent continues to raise awareness about residents’ safety and the quality of care they receive in long-term care facilities through his new organization, Ontario Cares.

 

The Post and Courier reported that Charleston state senator Paul Thurmond introduced a bill to make it clear that families have electronic surveillance at their disposal in gauging loved ones’ quality of care. The measure would require state-licensed facilities to inform residents and their relatives of the tool. It also devises criminal penalties for anyone who interferes with the equipment, known colloquially as “granny cams.”  The goal and purpose is to deter abuse abd fraud, and catch sexual predators.

Sen. Thurmond, R-Charleston, drafted the current bill that allows video to be used in criminal and civil courts. Thurmond said he modeled the measure after one that Oklahoma lawmakers unanimously approved.  Texas, New Mexico and Maryland also allow video cameras.  Since the early 2000s, about a dozen states have considered such measures.

The bill would require permission only from the resident featured, or from a legal representative.
Among its provisions, the law would penalize anyone who tampers with the cameras.

 

 

 

The San Francisco Chronicle reported another incident of abuse and neglect recorded by hidden camera.  The family suspected abuse at Gold Crest Care Center after noticing bruising and unusual markings on her grandmother, Ana Louisa Medina.

Granddaughter Valentin told ABC News that the hidden camera recorded 600 hours of footage including employees grabbing her grandmother’s arm, twisting it back, lifting her off the bed and slamming her into the bed, the report states.  After watching the videos, Valentin said she transferred her grandmother to an emergency room and later to a different nursing home, the article said.

 

 

Just last week, hidden cameras caught the abuse of a South Carolina man at Mount Pleasant Manor, caused two nursing employees to be arrested for abuse in Pennsylvania, and recorded abuse in Oklahoma City.  Each of these cases higlight the need and benefit of hidden cameras.  Clearly with the lack of adequate staffing in most nursing facilities causing burnout, frustration, and abuse, there is a need for families to place hidden cameras in their loved one’s rooms to prevent abuse and neglect that is common in the industry. The industry will claim privacy concerns and cost but the real reason is that the facilities want to hide the daily abuse and neglect.

 

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The Dallas News reported the tragic case of abuse suffered by Mynez Carter at the hands of nursing home employees at the Heritage Oaks Nursing Home.  The abuse and assault were recorded on video.   Daughters of Mynez Carter, 83, secretly installed a “nanny cam” in their mother’s room at the Heritage Oaks Nursing Home, which captured the abuse.  The relatives bought a surveillance camera that downloads images to a computer.  They hid the camera, smaller than a preschooler’s crayon, in her mother’s room.  Mynez Carter has Alzheimer’s disease and requires continuous care.

The family became suspicious when Carter had unexplained bruises, was acting fearful and dodged away from anyone trying to embrace her. They believe the hidden camera they installed in her room explains why.  The video showed rough treatment and abuse.  In one instance a worker putting a pillow under Carter’s head can be seen pulling her hair and pushing her head. In another instance a worker pinches her leg.

The Star-Telegram reported that CNA Maria F. Acosta was arrested for assaulting an elderly person.

Heritage Oaks received an overall score of 50 out of 100 on its last inspection by the department.
In the most recent comprehensive inspection of Heritage Oaks, conducted Feb. 10, 23 deficiencies under federal standards and 38 violations of state standards were cited.

 

An Oklahoma facility Quail Creek Nursing home claims to be just as outraged as the community concerning two of its employees being arrested for neglect and abuse in April of 2012. Two staff members of Quail Creek, Lucy Waithira Gakunga, 23, and Caroline Kaseke, 28, were caught on video abusing a 96-year old patient. Family members of the patient were concerned that someone was stealing from the patient so they placed a hidden camera in her room. Gakunga was seen slapping the patient with a glove and then forcing the glove into the patient’s mouth. All the while Kaseke stood by and watched. Both women were fired from Quail Creek.

 

Two articles on this can be found at NewsOK and News9.

I wish every family could place a hidden camera to protect their loved ones from assault and neglect.

Levin & Perconti’s Illinois Nursing Home blog had a great article on the value and need for video cameras to prevent abuse and neglect in nursing homes.

"Our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer John J. Perconti was quoted this week in a Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article on the role that video cameras are playing in the courtrooms. The article touched on the effect that the increased use of surveillance cameras might have on the strategies of both plaintiff and defense attorneys. As local residents are aware, Chicago’s use of camera technology to monitor its corners and streets is growing rapidly. It is hard to go anywhere without being recorded by some sort of video device. In fact, while our city has certainly taken advantage of the surveillance tools as of late, we are actually a bit behind the curve. Other large cities (particularly international ones) have been using video cameras in more intrusive ways for years.

Not only is the city itself using these cameras, but many private businesses similarly monitor their surroundings as a safety tool. The captured footage is often crucial evidence when it records the incidents that at the heart of injury lawsuits. For example, our Illinois injury attorney John Perconti discussed a nursing home neglect case of ours involving a resident who fell outside of a senior center, suffering severe injuries that ultimately killed him. Attorney Perconti explained how the video camera mounted by outside an adult day care center caught the entire event.

The recording shows the senior using a walker, walking down a ramp toward a bus. Perconti explained, “He caught the side slope of the ramp and this causes him to fall sideways, striking his head on the pavement.” Perconti went
 

Delaware Daily Times had an article on the tragic case of abuse and neglect suffered by Lois McCallister at the Quadrangle Sunrise Senior Living facility.  Her daughter Mary French used a "nanny cam" to secretly record workers abusing her mother. French placed a secret camera in the room of her mother after she complained that staff had abused her.  Since the incident, the couple has moved McCallister to their Havertown home.   The video led police to arrest Quadrangle workers Samirah Traynham, Ayesha Muhammad, and Tyrina Griffin on assault, harassment, and other charges. Each has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial next month.

The facility’s refusal to accept responsibility led French to file a lawsuit contending that Sunrise Senior Living Inc. failed to properly train its care workers, grossly understaffed the facility, and violated state regulations.   According to the complaint and video, Quadrangle employees Samirah Traynham, Tyrina Griffin and Ayesha Muhammad physically abused McCallister in March by taunting, humiliating and assaulting her as she stood naked from the waist up.  In a video, the victim can be seen trying to escape her alleged tormentors, only to be pulled back into her room and further ridiculed.

“Her tormentors changed her life permanently,” French said, as she and her husband, Paul, spoke to reporters in their Havertown home. “Our mother has never been the same since the abuse. She entered the Quadrangle a happy, hopeful person, and now she is totally demoralized.”

Paul French said the couple had received letters from relatives of other Sunrise residents who thanked them for bringing the issue to light.  French said she and her husband filed the complaint to help ensure no one placed in a care facility suffers the way her mother suffered.

See article at Philly.com.

Often residents of nursing homes complain about neglect and abuse but there concerns are ignored because of lack of evidence.  Allowing cameras in nursing homes would prevent abuse, document fraud, and encourage the staff to provide appropriate care.  Recently, articles in the Minnesota Star-Tribune and the Seattle Times discussed the benefits of cameras in nursing homes.

More families are using surveillance technology and video cameras to help protect loved ones they suspect are being abused or mistreated by caregivers. An Ohio man placed a hidden camera in a desk fan to catch two nursing home workers abusing and hitting his 78-year-old mother. In New Jersey, workers were caught abusing an 87-year-old woman.  In New York, authorities arrested 22 workers after hidden cameras revealed maltreatment of residents in two facilities.

For years, the long-term care industry has fought legislative efforts across the United States to legalize the use of cameras, citing costs and privacy issues.  In 2009, Minnesota legislators approved a law that allows adult foster-care facilities to install cameras for overnight monitoring of vulnerable residents to save on staff costs.  In the two recent Minnesota cases, an assisted-living facility discovered large quantities of medication missing from at least six residents. The facility installed cameras in client rooms and caught an aide on the night shift stealing prescription drugs. In a 2007 case, an assisted-living facility in Chanhassen installed a camera that documented an aide abusing a resident late at night in her own apartment. The video showed an aide "forcefully dragging" the woman from her living room to her bedroom.

Legislation was introduced in more than 15 states, but only three — Texas, New Mexico and Maryland — adopted laws addressing the use of cameras in nursing homes.  Violette King, one of the leading advocates for using cameras, believes they are "the only solution" for family members who can’t be present 24 hours a day. King founded the nonprofit advocacy group Nursing Home Monitors in 1996 after her father suffered abuse while in a facility.