South Carolina Lawmakers Consider Bill to Allow Cameras in Facilities to Prevent Nursing Home Abuse
A handful of states have passed bills allowing concerned family members to place hidden cameras, sometimes called “grannycams,” in skilled nursing and long-term care facilities to keep an eye out for nursing home abuse. However, controversy surrounds the legislation, with opponents claiming that the cameras violate the privacy rights of residents, while proponents state that cameras effectively gather evidence in the event of nursing home abuse so the family can prosecute abusive nurses and the facility that hired them.
South Carolina debated the camera legislation last year, but in September 2014, the bill stalled in the House. Now, a new piece of nursing home camera legislation has been introduced to the Senate medical affairs subcommittee by Sen. Paul Thurmond, R-Charleston. On Wednesday, March 25th, the subcommittee voted to adjorn debate on the legislation so that lawmakers could address opponents’ concerns.
The main opponents of the nursing home abuse bill are nursing homes themselves. Derrick DeFino, regional director of operations at Five Star Quality Care, said “the residents’ room is their private place. They entertain guests there. Some of my residents still have romantic relationships. … We’re not talking about just monitoring them when care’s provided, but 24-7, no matter what’s going on.”
“People are living here. …There are things that happened in my parents’ room that no son should see happening to his mother,” said nursing home industry lobbyist Randy Lee. He added that, “This is not a police car,” addressing a comparison made by Sen. Thurmond between the nursing home industry’s push against the legislation and the police force’s push against dash cam legislation some years ago.
“Somebody should be comforted to know that their loved one is not being abused or neglected,” Thurmond said of his proposed legislation, “and those nursing homes should be comforted to know that they have a way of overcoming wrongful accusations of mistreatment.”
The AARP, a group that represents senior citizens, has also supported the nursing home abuse legislation. Video cameras can be “a tool to assist family care givers, especially care givers from other states, in checking on their loved ones,” said Coretta Bedsole, associate state director for advocacy at AARP.
The South Carolina bill would allow concerned family members to place a camera in the room of an elderly loved one, with the consent of the room’s resident, and possibly the resident’s roommate. The cameras would be provided at the family’s expense, not the nursing home’s, and it would be illegal for nursing home staff to tamper with the cameras. Captured footage could be used to prosecute nursing home abuse.
The Strom Law Firm Defends Victims of Nursing Home Abuse
Too many recent investigations into the nursing home industry have found a poorly-regulated, high-profit system, with overworked nurses and nursing aides, lack of control or care for patients in dementia wards, and theft involving nursing home administrators. Perpetrators of nursing home abuse can be other patients in the facility, nursing staff, administrators, or other family members. Nursing home abuse is not simply physical – it can also be sexual, emotional, or financial.
If you believe your loved one is being abused at their skilled nursing or long-term care facility, contact Adult Protection Services immediately to begin the investigation into the nursing home. You should also contact a nursing home abuse attorney for help with the investigation. The nursing home abuse prosecutors at the Strom Law Firm understand that you suffer unspeakably when your loved one is being abused, and we offer free, confidential case evaluations to see how we can help you best. Contact us today. 803.252.4800