Exploring “Granny Cams” in Missouri Nursing Homes to Prevent Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect: Stories From a Family
Cameras are available almost everywhere in society today. So why not nursing homes? Many feel that cameras in nursing homes would prevent Missouri nursing home abuse and neglect, including even basic mishandling of residents. Ten states have enacted laws that create rights to allow cameras in nursing homes, including neighboring Illinois, Oklahoma, and Kansas. But Missouri legislators have refused to allow residents to protect themselves with cameras. In fact, right now under Missouri law, a resident can actually be kicked out of a nursing home if they or their family members have a camera in the resident’s room. Given the extent of nursing home abuse and neglect that happens in Missouri, that is simply absurd.
Our local KMOV4 ran an investigate report this week sharing a shocking collection of videos which revealed examples of mishandling, abuse, and neglect by nursing home staff through hidden cameras placed in nursing homes around the country. In this video, investigative reporter Lauren Trager explained some of the horrors nursing home residents suffer and discussed how “granny cams” could be used to prevent these harms.
The investigative report also spoke with Martha Eudaley, a person who has made it her personal mission to get cameras in nursing homes. She tells an unfortunate, but all too common tale, of how her husband Tom was treated at a nursing home she chose not to name on television. While she suspected that her husband was being neglected, the reality of the extent of the neglect hit her one day in particular when she found her husband sitting in a wheelchair, head down and unresponsive. She says he had bedsores and was suffering from a fever, yet he remained at the nursing home rather than the hospital. He would never recover. The only different between Ms. Eudaley’s story and countless others is that her story made the news. Far too many other families see their loved ones suffer abuse and neglect at Missouri nursing homes without any recognition. We offer our sincerest condolences to Martha for her husband, Tom Eudaley as well as the unknown others who suffer in silence.
Pending Legislation in Missouri: Two Different House Bills Being Debated
There are presently two House bills being debated, even though it looks unlikely for either to pass this legislative session. House Bill 675 gives residents the right to chose whether they can have cameras and video surveillance to monitor them, whereas House Bill 1176 gives nursing homes the right to elect to install cameras.
We are glad that Ms. Eudaley is advocating for cameras in Missouri nursing homes and we join her in the support. Unfortunately, the nursing home industry is fighting back. Look at it this way, those who want to keep what happens to vulnerable, elderly nursing home residents secret are those who are opposed to family members from being able to see their loved ones through camera in their nursing home room.
According to the KMOV report, the Missouri Assisted Living Association (MALA) is strongly opposed to any laws that allow nursing home residents to elect to have video camera surveillance. This organization argues that nursing homes are already heavily over-regulated, and adding more regulations will not help. They also claim to be concerned about other residents’ rights, who is seeing the video feed, and where the videos go or get posted. No doubt the nursing home industry, with nearly unlimited funds, will continue to fight for secrecy and against the rights of family members to ensure the safety of their loved ones.
But State Representative Jim Murphy, R-South County, is a strong advocate for victims and their families. Representative Murphy frankly argues if nursing homes had the option to add cameras, they would never do it. He says the impetus for the bill is to protect residents from nursing home abuse and neglect, not to protect nursing homes. He advocates for a resident’s rights to have cameras placed in their room.
“Granny Cams” in Missouri Nursing Homes Would Likely Prevent Abuse and Neglect, but Would Definitely Have a Chilling Effect on Nursing Home Misconduct
Even though there are shocking examples of video recordings and residents who have been seriously injured or wrongfully killed due to nursing home abuse, some people claim that cameras in nursing homes are not the complete cure. They may be right that not all abuse and neglect will be prevented by these “granny cams,” but they would at least help stop and prevent some abuse and neglect. They would also help prevent repeated abuse and neglect.
-Even if cameras were not 100% effective at preventing or stopping abuse, just having cameras in place would have a chilling effect on staff members who are opportunistic criminals or less-brazen abusers. It could also compel staff members to properly care for the residents assigned to them because they never know who is watching on the camera. Cameras would also allow families to be an extra eye for perpetually understaffed nursing homes. If a family members sees that their loved one is trying to get out of bed when they are unable to safely do so, they could call the nursing home and tell staff members to go provide assistance. That act alone may save the resident from falling and suffering a broken hip or subdural hematoma.
Victims of Missouri Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect? Call Our Law Firm
Here at the Terry Law Firm, our Missouri nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer knows how important resident safety is for families. While no one can be there 100% of the time, a “granny cam” can be an important safety blanket for families and residents. It could also be an important shield from Missouri nursing home abuse and neglect. If you believe that a loved one has been seriously injured or wrongfully killed due to nursing home abuse or neglect, please call our law firm for a FREE consultation by dialing (314) 334-1439.