Governor Rauner and the Illinois legislature have come together to pass a vitally important piece of legislation that will help to protect seniors against nursing home abuse and that will make it easier for victims to prove their cases where abuse does occur. This landmark piece of legislation will help deter physical and sexual abuse, make a record of neglect, and document negligent treatment that occurs in a patient’s room. The way this new law achieves all of these goals is by allowing nursing home residents to install cameras in their rooms.
Governor Signs Bill that Allows Nursing Home Residents to Install Cameras
The Chicago Tribune reports that Governor Rauner signed a bill that will allow nursing home residents to install cameras in their rooms so long as they pay for them. If a patient has a roommate, everyone living in the room has to agree before a camera can be installed. If a roommate refuses to allow a camera, but one patient wants one, then the nursing home has to give the resident an opportunity to move to another room so that he or she can use a camera. If a doctor determines that a resident is not mentally capable of consenting to the use a camera, then the resident’s legal guardian or family members are allowed to give or refuse consent. The law specifically states that the footage produced by these cameras can be used in court proceedings.
Why are Cameras Necessary?
Many Americans including many elderly Americans bristle at the thought of more cameras in our society. As red light cameras, security cameras, and cell phone cameras take over our society it can feel like privacy no longer exists. This is why it was important that the bill allow roommates to refuse a camera in their room. But nursing home abuse has become such a widespread and severe problem in our society that given seniors and family who want to prevent and prosecute it the tools to do so was vitally important. ABC News reported early this year that more than 25 percent of nursing homes are so substandard that they are a threat to their residents’ health.
The president of the American Health Care Association, a nursing home industry group, complained that laws like the one that has just passed in Illinois damage the trust between caregivers and patients. This criticism ignores the real cause of the erosion of trust between residents and caregivers: too many caregivers have committed horrible acts of abuse or neglect, and too many nursing homes have refused to give good caregivers the resources they need to do their jobs well. Resident health should be the paramount concern.
How Cameras Will Help Residents
There are two main ways in which these cameras will help residents. They are actually much like security cameras in the a convenience store in that regard. The first way they will help is through deterrence. Just as a store uses cameras to deter shoplifters, the hope is that caregivers who may otherwise abuse patients will not do so if they know the abuse will be caught on camera. The other way the cameras will help seniors is by helping to prove claims against facilities that neglect or abuse residents despite cameras. Just like a footage of a theft can convince a jury to convict, footage of abuse or neglect happening will be extremely persuasive in convincing a jury to hold a nursing home liable for abuse. Because this video footage is such strong evidence, it may also lead more nursing homes to be willing to settle claims without forcing residents or their families to go to court.
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