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Are cameras the answer to preventing nursing home abuse & neglect?

The U.S. is gaining a higher concentration of aging and elderly citizens. This is, in part, because of the very large baby boom generation. But advances in healthcare also mean that people are living longer than in the past.

Currently, there are about 1.5 million residents in approximately 16,000 nursing homes around the nation. Sadly, America’s nursing homes and similar facilities seem to be unequipped to deal with the growing population of elderly Americans. As it stands, there are already far too many complaints of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Preventing abuse/neglect and holding nursing homes accountable for it are not easy tasks. Frustrated by the culture of secrecy in some nursing homes, families in Pennsylvania and other states have set up hidden video cameras in certain rooms to capture footage of abuse and neglect. What they found in many cases is shocking and distressing.

So should video cameras be allowed in the rooms of all residents/families who request them? Some states think so. There are currently four states that allow – by law or by regulation – video cameras to be placed in residents’ rooms. Many other states have considered or are considering similar measures.

There are, of course, privacy concerns. State laws and regulations address the problems of consent and privacy in varied ways. But most believe that the only privacy concerns which should be honored are those of the residents themselves. Nursing home staff should not be allowed to object to having their work independently observed and monitored. They are, after all, taking care of other human beings.

Cameras in nursing homes will likely remain a controversial issue. But at present, they seem like the most sensible and reliable way for families to ensure the safety of their loved ones in these facilities.

Source: Stateline, “Nursing Home Cameras Create Controversy,” Jenni Bergal, Sept. 26, 2014

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