Last year, more than 500,000 cases of elder abuse, both physical and financial, were reported in the country. Millions more went unnoticed, were not reported or are still ongoing. Elder abuse is a growing problem throughout California and nationwide, and legislators and advocates have been working hard to eradicate the problem. However, some nursing homes and advocates think that enacting tougher laws and cracking down on violence and abusers is not enough, and they are starting to take matters into their own hands.
Shedding Some Light on the Problem
One of the biggest issues with elder abuse is that it is far too often unchecked in nursing homes, elder care facilities and even victims’ own homes. There are many cases of elder abuse that go unreported for a variety of reasons. The victim may be too afraid of his or her abuser to speak up, or he or she may fear that no one will do anything and the abuser will retaliate with more violence. Because so many older people are also dealing with medical complications and health issues, they may be unable to alert anyone to ongoing abuse or attacks.
In a nursing home, there’s an even higher risk of abuse because residents are dependent on their caretakers for their most basic daily functions and most cannot act on their own behalf. Common types of abuse in nursing homes include residents who are unable to change positions or get out of bed being left alone in their rooms, as well as residents being physically harmed or mistreated, denied sufficient food and liquids, or denied access to visitors, medical workers or other people.
In an effort to highlight the serious problem of nursing home elder abuse and to deter potential abusers, several nursing homes have begun installing security cameras in their residents’ bedrooms. This is a bold move because it quite literally will bring to light any unreported, ongoing instances of abuse.
The mere presence of security cameras in the rooms may be enough to scare potential abusive caretakers from acting rashly or in anger towards those in their care. Often, abuse is combined with violence and anger, and it can be an immediate, knee-jerk reaction rather than a premeditated attack. A caretaker could lash out, for example, at a resident who is being difficult, and may resort to physical abuse. But if video cameras are installed, caretaker should think twice even in tense situations because his or her actions could be caught on camera.
If every resident is monitored with a security camera in his or her private room, this could cause some concerns about violations of privacy and ethical conduct. In California, it is illegal to audio or video record a person without his or her knowledge and consent. However, it is permissible to have video recording in common areas of nursing homes and facilities that offer elder care, but not yet in private rooms without the subject’s consent. Nursing homes that have begun installing security cameras in individual rooms must obtain each resident’s consent before doing so.
At the Evans Law Firm, our Contra Costa County elder abuse lawyers represent anyone who has been a victim of elder abuse. For more information regarding security options in nursing homes, contact our office at 415-441-8669 or www.evanslaw.com.