New Law Allows Recordings in Nursing Homes
A new law that allows nursing home residents and their loved ones to install video and audio recording equipment in a resident’s room to detect and deter abuse has been signed into law and takes effect Nov. 1.
The “Protect Our Loved Ones Act” was approved unanimously by the Oklahoma Senate and the House and was recently signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. The law allows residents and their family members to place electronic monitoring devices in residents’ private rooms. The law also makes such recordings admissible in court as evidence of abuse and neglect.
We applaud the new law and are hopeful that it will diminish the occurrence of physical and sexual abuse in Oklahoma nursing homes. A nursing home resident is entitled to the same protection and respect that the rest of us insist on. A resident’s room is one’s home; a resident should have the right to equip one’s room with whatever monitoring devices increase one’s safety and peace of mind.
Other provisions of the new law include:
• A nursing home may not refuse to admit a person who wants electronic monitoring in one’s room. Nor may a facility oust a resident who installs electronic monitoring equipment.
• No one other than the resident and family members may remove or obstruct the monitoring equipment.
• Nursing homes must notify their residents of the option of installing electronic monitoring equipment.
Recent headline-grabbing stories have reported families that discovered nursing home abuse through the use of hidden cameras. In an earlier post, I wrote about the sad story of Eryetha Mayberry, a 96-year-old OKC nursing home resident who was treated so badly that when the abuse was caught on tape, one of the aides ending up going to prison.
Among the devices that are available to residents and their families are video recorders disguised as alarm clocks and air purifiers. Motion-activated video recorders turn on and off as people enter and exit the room.
The new Oklahoma law has drawn praise from nursing home resident advocates in other parts of the country.
The firm of Lebowtiz and Mzhen, which writes the “Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog,” wrote:
“While we always hope that our loved ones won’t be the victims of nursing home abuse or neglect, the sad truth is that many are. With many elderly individuals suffering from dementia or other ailments which impede their ability to communicate … we may continue to remain unaware that they are being mistreated. Bills like this one would provide a potential way for family members to ensure that their loved ones are receiving the quality of care that they need and deserve.”
Barry G. Doyle, a Chicago attorney who writes the “Nursing Home Lawyer Blog,” wrote:
“This is not the first ‘granny cam’ law to pass in the U.S. … What makes the passage of this particular law different is the fact that it passed unanimously in a state that traditionally supports business interests.”
If you are a nursing home resident in Oklahoma or have a loved one who is, and if you have a question about the new law or suspect abuse or neglect, contact us for a free consultation.
Here’s a copy of the bill SB587.