Nursing homes are supposed to be comfortable environments where our elderly loved ones can get the support they need during their twilight years. Unfortunately, many nursing homes fail to meet their resident’s basic needs, and sometimes, staff members are even physically or verbally abusive. Several states have passed laws which allow surveillance in nursing homes, in an effort to ensure that staff is treating their residents with the care and kindness they deserve. In Wisconsin and New Jersey, there are even programs which loan secret cameras which can be installed in an elderly residents room. Will these measures help to fix the growing problem of nursing home neglect and abuse?
Are Cameras In Nursing Homes Necessary?
Cameras are useful in cases where a resident has made accusations of neglect or abuse, but investigators are having trouble proving the abuse. Many nursing home residents have conditions like dementia and Alzheimers and sometimes may recant previous accusations even if abuse or neglect did occur.
A camera loan program is Wisconsin’s proposed solution to the difficulty of proving abuse. Family members of nursing home residents may obtain a free surveillance camera and secretly record any caregivers they suspect of harming their loved ones.
When abuse is discovered, the family has powerful video evidence for taking legal action against the nursing home. This is an important step for protecting any other residents who have been abused in that facility, along with future residents as well. When facing a lawsuit, these facilities will be punished for the negligence that allowed this abuse to occur and be forced to be more stringent in making sure the facility is a safe and comfortable environment for all residents.
Can A Secret Camera Prevent Abuse?
In many cases, staff members who are abusive or neglectful assume that there will be no consequences. This is especially true when the victim has suffered from mental deterioration in older age or is mentally ill. Sadly, the perpetrators of these vicious crimes see the most vulnerable as the easiest targets.
Cameras in nursing home rooms don’t need to be secret. For some families, it’s better for the staff to be well aware of the camera in order to prevent abuse. It’s not always necessary to wait until abuse or neglect happens to install a secret camera – installing one out in the open can help act as a deterrent and stop abuse or neglect before it starts.
How Common Is Nursing Home Neglect & Abuse?
It can be difficult to pinpoint exact statistics on nursing home abuse, mainly because so many cases go unreported. However, the numbers we do have paint a grim picture. A congressional report found that 30 percent of the nursing homes in the United States were cited for nearly 9,000 cases of abuse between January 1999 and January 2001. In 1,601 of the cases in this report, the abuse was serious enough “to cause actual harm to residents or to place the residents in immediate jeopardy of death or serious injury.”
With the unfortunate reality that 3 in 10 American nursing homes have had issues with abuse, it’s important for the families of residents to do all that they can to keep them safe. This may include vetting several facilities before making a decision and installing a camera in a loved one’s room.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Nursing Home Abuse?
If you think a friend or loved one has been abused in a nursing home, it’s important to take action quickly.
First, you should speak with your loved one about what may have happened. If they claim abuse, you should consider reporting the matter to police.
Residents of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Washington, Illinois, and Maryland may have the option to use some form of surveillance, while residents of Wisconsin and New Jersey have the option to rent out cameras.
In addition to criminal prosecution, you may wish to file a civil lawsuit. This can help further punish the nursing home for their negligence, get your family the justice and financial support you need, and help prevent future cases of abuse.