Little Rock, AR (Law Firm Newswire) February 11, 2014 - If a relative is in an assisted care facility, they have the right to be treated with care, respect and dignity. In many instances, this is not happening.
“No one entrusts a loved family member to a nursing home expecting that they will be subjected to abuse. However, this happens far too often. Often enough in fact, that many families who suspect something may be wrong are beginning to install hidden video cameras to catch any suspicious activity. What they find is at times horrific and shocking,” adds Michael Smith, a respected Arkansas nursing home abuse lawyer.
Nursing homes these days are filled to capacity and often have a long waiting list. Most facilities are further seriously understaffed and with those caring for their charges over worked and often poorly trained, running short on patience and short of time to care for everyone in the manner they deserve. The disturbing truth about nursing home abuse is that elder mistreatment, which encompasses neglect and abuse in many forms, is a virulent and widespread problem in the U.S. How bad is it? “It’s hard to get a precise fix on the numbers, as many cases of elder abuse in such settings goes unreported, and for the cases that do come to light, there are usually many more that no one hears about,” points out Smith.
The National Center on Elder Abuse has revealed that as many as one in ten elderly residents in nursing care are subjected to some form of neglect and/or abuse. Of even more concern are statistics from the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, which suggests that for each known elder abuse case brought to their attention, at least another 24 are not reported. “This could just as easily be the case in Arkansas,” states Smith, “as our elder population is burgeoning every year and our care facilities are also full.” It is not difficult to understand a family’s decision to install a video camera, or Granny Cam, in their relative’s room.
While these hidden video cameras are a perfect way to determine how a senior is being treated, by catching abusers red-handed, there are moral and legal complications. For example, there are only three states that allow Granny Cams, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. The issue is that many long-term residents do not have the capacity to consent to being filmed, in which case, that decision is, or may be made, by a legal representative. Additionally, the presence of a camera may interfere with the privacy of others such as room mates, the relative being filmed, and even staff.
Those being filmed do have the right to say no to being recorded, particularly if they realize they may be filmed while being bathed or using the washroom or possibly having a diaper changed. “Obviously in some cases, the person being filmed does not have the mental capability to understand what that means, which makes situations such as this extremely delicate in many difficult ways,” Smith points out.
For Arkansas families who suspect a relative is being mistreated in a nursing home, before installing any type of hidden recording device, contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer for assistance. “It’s better to be on the right side of the law and do things the right, legal way, rather than obtain evidence that the court may not recognize,” says Smith.
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