Illinois Considers Oklahoma’s Example Regarding Cameras in Nursing Homes

The state of Illinois is considering legalizing the use of cameras and other recording devices in the rooms of nursing home residents. Purpose of the recording devices is to catch incidents of abuse or neglect being inflicted by staff or other residents.

ABC News in Chicago credits Oklahoma’s law, enacted last year, for setting the pace on surveillance devices for nursing home residents. A Chicago Tribune report on the proposal also gave considerable attention to the new Oklahoma law.

Oklahoma passed the Protect Our Loved Ones Act last year, which allows residents and their family members to install cameras and audio recorders. The law became effective Nov. 1. Here’s the report I posted at the time about our Oklahoma law: “New Law Allows Recordings in Nursing Homes.”

In Illinois earlier this month, Attorney General Lisa Madigan proposed similar legislation. She said Illinois would become the sixth state to allow cameras in nursing home resident’s rooms.

“When our loved ones are in nursing homes, they are not always safe, and they are not always well cared for,” Madigan said.

Similar legislation has been proposed before in Illinois, but has always been stopped by what one Illinois advocate described as “the powerful nursing home lobby.”

“We know for a fact the nursing home industry is very wealthy, they have a cache of lawyers to protect them, and they give millions of dollars to politicians for their campaigns,” said Rosemary Pulice of the advocacy group, Nursing Home Monitors, “and that’s what will kill this bill in the legislature.”

Oklahoma’s law allows the camera or audio recorder to be hidden; for example, manufacturers have designed motion-activated video cameras built into alarm clocks and air purifiers. The law also made such recordings admissible as evidence in a court of law.

The Oklahoma law was passed after the family of a nursing home resident made public a video tape showing a nursing home aide abusing Eryetha Mayberry, a 96-year-old Oklahoma City nursing home resident. The aide received a prison sentence.