States and family members are turning to the use of hidden cameras to catch abuse in nursing home facilities. In November 2013, Oklahoma became the third state, along with New Mexico and Texas, to enact legislation that explicitly allows hidden cameras to be placed in a nursing home resident’s room to catch potential abusers.
While most states haven’t passed hidden camera laws, some of them, including New York, have used cameras to bring abusive nursing home workers to justice. In 2008, the New York state Attorney General’s office convicted 26 long-term care workers by utilizing hidden surveillance. In 2012, the New York Attorney General’s office held a training session for state investigators on how to use hidden cameras in nursing facilities.
Family members are also turning to hidden surveillance techniques. In 2012, Oklahoma resident Doris Racher placed a camera disguised as an alarm clock in her 96-year-old mother’s nursing home room. The recordings revealed aides stuffing latex gloves into her mother’s mouth as well as flinging her frail mother suffering with dementia from her wheelchair onto her bed.
In an interview with The New York Times, Wes Bledso, founder of A Perfect Cause, a group that tracks nursing home abuse, stated, “Families are witnessing injuries and neglect of loved ones, and the only way to detect what’s happening is to use hidden cameras.”
Some unions have spoken out against the use of hidden surveillance.
Anthony Caldwell, a union spokesman for aides in three states, told the Times, “When you have low-wage health care workers in difficult settings, they feel subjected to scrutiny and attack. Secret surveillance takes away from their professionalism. It’s unfortunate and creepy and wrong.”
Marie-Therese Connolly, a former Justice Department coordinator for the Elder Justice and Nursing Home Initiative, pointed out that “proper staffing and training” will ultimately assure quality nursing home care.
Website Resource: Watchful Eye in Nursing Homes, New York Times–Jan Hoffman, November 18, 2013
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