Cameras in nursing homes are becoming more common. Family members who suspect their loved ones are being abused have begun putting security cameras in nursing homes to monitor their care. For example, an Ohio man used surveillance to catch nine aides abusing his mother. Two of the aides faced criminal charges.
Son Discovers Nursing Home Abuse by Installing a Camera
Steve Piskor, a Cleveland man who caught nursing home employees abusing his 78-year-old mother, Esther, is now pushing for laws to allow cameras in nursing homes.
The alarming footage revealed that Esther was being abused and neglected by nine different nursing aides. The video was used to convict two of the aides on criminal charges. Three other nursing aides were fired.
Steve’s mission is to make sure no others are abused the way his mother was.
“We’re not saying that all aides are bad or all nursing homes are bad, but what I will say is that there are bad aides and bad people in nursing homes and we need to stop that,” Steve said in an interview with a local TV station.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Ohio
Sadly, the Piskor family is not alone. About 1 in 10 Americans over 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA).
The NCOA defines elder abuse as:
- Emotional abuse
- Financial exploitation
- Passive neglect
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Willful deprivation
In Ohio, about 15,000 cases of elder abuse are reported each year. However, the actual number is much higher.
Some key facts about elder abuse in Ohio include:
- Elder abuse estimates range over 214,000 per year, but most go unreported
- 39 counties do not have any staff assigned to Adult Protective Services
- The state needs up to $30.2 million in state funding for caseworkers to help prevent elder abuse
Additionally, U.S. senators released a report that showed 400 nursing homes across the country with a “persistent record of poor care.”
Four of these nursing homes are in Ohio:
- Hudson Elms
- Canton Christian Home
- Eliza Bryant Center
- Fairlawn Rehab and Nursing
In addition to Esther Pikor’s case, there have been several other disturbing instances of Ohio nursing home abuse that have made recent news.
These incidents include:
- A 90-year-old Navy vet with dementia was found by his granddaughter to have large sores across his back, a staph infection, and dehydration.
- A resident “rotted to death” after wounds on his body were ignored. The wounds progressed to gangrenous and necrotic tissue, and he died after his body went into septic shock.
- An 80-year-old woman was found by her family slumped over face down in a pillow, gasping for air.
Without action today, these horrifying incidents may only increase over time. As Ohio’s population over 60 increases, more protection will be needed.
Ohio Proposes Bill to Eliminate Nursing Home Abuse
Two Democratic legislators have proposed a bill that would allow people to place security cameras in nursing homes.
If the bill is passed, nursing home residents and families could give permission to install cameras in their rooms.
The current law in Ohio allows cameras in patient rooms only if approved by the nursing home facility.
Debate Over Hidden Cameras in Nursing Homes
According to U.S. News & World Report, the topic of cameras in nursing homes is still controversial. The use of these cameras, sometimes called “granny cams,” comes with legal issues that are tricky to navigate.
These issues include:
- Possible violation of privacy rights of the resident or roommate
- Possible violation of HIPAA or wiretapping/electronic surveillance statutes
- Decrease in staff morale because they feel they’re not trusted could worsen care
As more legal action related to nursing homes is taken, these issues will hopefully be addressed.
What States Allow Cameras in Nursing Homes?
There is no federal law prohibiting the use of hidden cameras in nursing homes, but some states have passed laws to allow them.
States that allow cameras in nursing homes include:
- New Mexico
While these state laws vary, they tend to have several things in common.
- Families must pay for all related expenses
- People must be told about the camera and provide consent
- Signs/notices must be posted notifying people of the camera
New Jersey has also enacted a program that loans equipment to people wishing to use cameras in nursing homes.
Additionally, there are over 10 more states that are currently looking into the issue of cameras in nursing homes.
If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse and Want a Camera
If you believe your loved one has suffered from nursing home abuse — and you want to install a camera — there are some important factors to consider.
An important first step is to fully understand your state’s laws related to cameras in nursing homes.
Further, you may wish to talk to your loved one if they can communicate. Explain why you feel it is a good idea to install a camera and answer any questions or concerns they may have.
It is also important to get consent from your loved one’s roommate and their family. The family may agree once they understand that their loved one may be better protected as well.
Finally, you may need to discuss the matter with the nursing home staff. For states that do not have any specific laws around cameras in nursing homes, it is usually at the discretion of the facility itself.
By explaining in a neutral manner why you would like to use a nursing home camera, the facility may allow it.
The conversation around cameras in nursing homes will undoubtedly continue. Until there is consistency at the legal level, it is critical to watch for signs of nursing home abuse in your loved one.