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Would Cameras in Nursing Home Rooms Prevent Abuse?

When we place our aging or sick loved ones in nursing homes, we trust that they are treated respectfully and carefully. Though we cannot always physically be there with them, we take extraordinary steps to ensure their safety and well being. However, abuse still occurs, and at shocking rates. What’s worse is that most cases of abused are never actually reported. One way to eliminate this problem is to place cameras in nursing home rooms to hopefully end elder abuse.

Recently, a camera strategically placed in a Massachusetts nursing home caught a violent case of elder abuse on tape. The footage shows a 93-year-old resident of Wingate Healthcare being tossed around her room. Two nursing home employees pulled the resident by her hair across her room and flung her into her wheelchair. The two staff members can also be seen threatening the resident with their fists. The victim weighed under 100 pounds and suffered from dementia.

As soon as the footage was revealed, Wingate fired the staff members. The two are both expecting to face charges of assault and battery on a person over the age of 60. According to reports, Wingate has been extremely cooperative with authorities and has conducted an independent investigation in the matter.

This display of elder abuse may not have been caught, except for the camera placed in the resident’s room. This incident begs the question: would cameras placed in residents’ rooms prevent instances of elder abuse? Lawmakers have long grappled with this idea.

A handful of states have passed laws that allow certain monitoring devices in nursing home rooms. Texas and Oklahoma, for example, allow these devices as a way to hopefully help prevent physical abuse of patients, while simultaneously serving as sort of test run for the rest of the country.

Naturally, there are pros and cons for allowing cameras in rooms. Starting with the pros, implementing a surveillance system in rooms could prevent abuse and neglect. Families or authorities would be able to monitor the activities that go on in a room, and any instance of abuse or neglect will be caught on tape. This could lead to better reporting of instances of wrongdoing. Further, the knowledge that their actions are being monitored would likely dissuade nurses and employees from acting recklessly or abusing residents. Also, residents who injure themselves attempting to get out of bed could potentially receive aid even faster.

On the other hand, the idea of a surveillance camera in every room immediately stirs up the image of Big Brother watching your every move. Any shred of privacy residents had would become virtually eliminated. Knowing that someone is watching your every move is a distressing feeling. There is also the argument that potential employees may be discouraged from seeking nursing home jobs if they know that their every action in being scrutinized. The threat of a wave of lawsuits surely will follow, says Dr. Charles Roadman, the president of the American Health Care Association.

There are many factors to balance when deciding whether to place cameras in nursing home rooms. In the meantime, it is important for nursing home ownership and management to take all steps possible to prevent patient abuse from happening in the first place. This includes properly training nurses and staff members, holding employees accountable for mistakes, hiring an adequate number of staff members, and making sure residents receive proper medical care. If one of your loved ones has been neglected in a Tennessee facility, call our nursing home abuse lawyers at 1-800-529-4004 for a free consultation.