A bill that would allow cameras to be installed in nursing homes has been pending since last year, and has yet to be signed by Illinois’ Governor Bruce Rauner. The bill has now passed both houses of the Illinois General Assembly and has been sitting on Governor Rauner’s desk since June 29, 2015. If he approves the bill or fails to take action within 60 days of receiving the bill, it will become law. So far the governor’s office has been quiet as to his leanings, but whatever he decides nursing home negligence is a problem that does not seem to be going away on its own.
Nursing Home Negligence: A Unique Beast
Any time government agencies discuss increased surveillance as an option to decrease crime, it opens up a long-running debate between those who believe cameras are key law enforcement tools and those who believe they violate individual privacy considerations. Nursing home negligence is not an ordinary crime, however, nor is it something that is easily proven through more traditional investigative methods. The unique nature of nursing home negligence includes the fact that it affects a very vulnerable population, is easily covered up by innocent explanations, and involves an industry that is heavily regulated and at the same time neglected by governments across the country by weak enforcement.
Surveillance: Pros and Cons
Those in favor of adding cameras to nursing homes argue that they will increase visibility of what exactly goes on after visitors have gone home. Unexplained bruising, sudden changes in loved ones’ behavior, and unexpected financial transactions for services that are difficult to prove were provided are harder to sweep under the rug if there is a video of what happened every second that you were not with your loved one.
Opponents often concur in the bill’s noble goal of preventing elder abuse in nursing homes, but view the use of cameras as an inappropriate method to achieve that goal. They argue that the privacy concerns of the residents and staff members trump any potential protection offered by the use of cameras. A primary concern of some is with regard to who will make the decision to place a camera in a resident’s room. If one resident’s legal guardian decides that a camera is a good idea for their loved one’s room, but the individual’s roommate opposes such an idea, how will the nursing home solve the problem? Fear of intrusive use of cameras in living areas also brings to light ideas of “big brother” watching over loved ones in their most private moments.
As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “A law without enforcement is just good advice.” This cannot be better shown than in the area of nursing home negligence, which depends on the enforcement actions brought by private citizens in the courts to deter further violation from offending institutions. Whether or not the governor signs the camera bill into law, one thing is clear: nursing home negligence cannot go unpunished.
Facilities must be held to the highest standards in order to protect our loved ones entrusted to their care. If you believe your loved one has been victimized by negligence of assisted living personnel, call the Lake County attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. today. We can help answer your questions and get help for your loved ones who deserve the highest quality care.