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Cameras can deter or contribute to nursing home neglect

In a handful of states in the country, laws exist that ensure the rights of residents -- and family members of these residents -- to record the care that is received in some long-term care facilities. However, while these electronic devices are intended to protect patients and residents from nursing home neglect or abuse, in many cases, cameras have aided those who sought to harm or degrade these helpless individuals. Illinois is one state that passed a law that permits families to document via electronic means the care provided by staff.

There have been many accounts that have surfaced that reveal that caregivers in some nursing homes have used cameras to degrade and humiliate the residents in their charge. These incidents have occurred in facilities nationwide and have resulted in fines and employee firings when the photos were reported. Caregivers have posted photos of residents to social media sites that depict neglect or degradation of the resident in a variety of situations. The widespread availability of devices with cameras has allowed this new form of abuse to become increasingly common.

Though many facilities require employees to refrain from using cell phones on the job, these rules are difficult to enforce, and some employees have claimed that they are attempting to document substandard care, though the means through which they are doing so appears questionable.  Though state regulatory agencies have stepped in and fined facilities where this type of abuse has occurred, the offenders are not often prosecuted. Some states have argued that the use of cameras may violate the rights of the administrators of these homes who do not want employees' procedures filmed.

There are efforts underway in several states to grant residents the right to install electronic monitoring devices in a resident's room as a protection from any type of nursing home neglect or abuse. There have already been cases where these cameras have provided proof that a resident was a victim of neglect. Illinois families that suspect that a loved one has suffered physical, emotional or psychological harm while in the care of a nursing facility are assured of the rights to file a claim against the parties responsible, in order to protect others and to pursue recompense for the monetary damages they may have incurred.

Source: desmoinesregister.com, "Abusive caregivers shoot degrading photos, but no cameras for clients", Clark Kauffman, Oct. 23, 2017

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