The extent to which our nation’s elderly are become vulnerable inside nursing homes is becoming more and more apparent to the baby boomer generation that now must attend to the needs of their parents. Too often, the primary need is simply to protect an aging parent from abuse and neglect. An interesting article suggests new tools for helping to protect the elderly may be on the horizon,
In the wake of reports and investigations of elder abuse, some states have instituted laws that would allow families to install video recording devices in the rooms of nursing home residents. Such states with “granny cam” laws include Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. The attorneys general of New York and Ohio have also used video recordings – obtained with families’ permission – as evidence for prosecuting offenders. A law that would allow video recording equipment in the rooms of nursing home residents are under consideration in Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas. However, discussion over the Missouri legislation has been tabled, while the proposed law in Arkansas has been meeting with considerable resistance from the nursing home industry.
Nonetheless, the Willie Mae Ryan Nursing Home Resident Protection Act was passed in the Arkansas House of Representatives in March, and has since moved on to the state senate. That law would allow video and audio recording devices to be placed in residents’ rooms, provided both the resident’s family and roommate give consent. Purchase and maintenance of the devices would be the responsibility of the family. Over a decade ago, Washington D.C. attorney Selket Cottle – then a recent graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law – published an article in the Elder Law Journal strongly advocating for legislation allowing for video monitoring equipment in nursing homes. She stated that it would be far more effective than mandatory background checks.