A bill to allow placement of cameras inside nursing homes is working through the Michigan Legislature despite pressure from the nursing home industry. The bill would allow a nursing home resident’s representative to monitor the resident with an electronic recording device in hopes of reducing elder abuse in the facilities.
According to a 2011 report in the “Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect,” staff have physically abused 24.3% of a sample of adult nursing home residents in Michigan.
Among those cases, 27% were labelled as physical mistreatment, 11% as sexual abuse cases and 62% as cases of forced restraint for feeding or toileting.
Through video monitoring, advocates of the bill hope to prevent instances of elder abuse.
“We’ve seen numerous cases in which a hidden camera has prevented or has brought out abuse in nursing homes,” said Christopher Smith of Southfield, the chair of the elder law and disability rights section of the State Bar of Michigan.
“When we see that when there’s a hidden camera, it raises the question how many instances of unreported abuse there is,” Smith said.
“Every person I talk to says this is a great and absolutely wonderful idea except the nursing home,” said Michigan Sen. Jim Runestad.
“There are unbelievable numbers of videos and the stark, horrific nature of the abuse was mind blowing to me,” Runestad said.
A study by Nursing Home Abuse shows nearly 5 million elders are abused in nursing homes each year. In addition, 24.3% of those elders experience at least one instance of physical abuse, while others suffer from sexual and financial abuse. Finally, only 1 and 14 of elder abuse are formally reported.
When 16 News Now asked 30-year medical professional Patricia Hill about the proposed bill, she said she has seen elder abuse many times in the workplace and said adding cameras may be the only way that could stop it.
If the bill is passed, Michigan would become one of seven states to allow cameras in nursing home rooms. It would allow families to view camera footage of their loved ones from their phones.