The eyes of the long-term care industry are turned to Louisiana right now. There, House Bill 281 was signed by Governor John Bel Edwards on May 31. The bill grants nursing home residents the right to install surveillance cameras in their rooms. It has received support from The Louisiana Nursing Home Association (LNHA) and the state's American Health Care Association (AHCA) affiliate.
These measures to prevent nursing home abuse and neglect could lead to a number of other states adopting similar regulations, especially those that have tried in the past.
Right to Voluntary Surveillance
Under HB 281, residents are required to give their nursing home notice if any surveillance equipment will be installed. Residents are also responsible for paying for the installation, maintenance, and removal of such equipment. Additionally, all cameras must include the date and time when capturing video.
A resident in a shared room would need the consent of any roommates, and signs would need to be posted that alert visitors and staff that there is a live camera in the space. Under the provisions of the bill, nursing homes would be obligated to allow the cameras and would not be able to turn residents away due to a desire to install one.
A Mixed Reaction
HB 281 was initially introduced to the House Health and Welfare Committee by State Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans back in March. The bill then advanced to the full house with a majority vote of 9 to 1. However, the bill did receive some opposition, specifically from nursing home owners who submitted red cards to the legislative committee. Additionally, Louisiana Nursing Home Association executive director, Mark Berger, proposed to work with Moreno to come to an agreement from both sides.
Nursing home owners may contest that surveillance cameras put their employees' privacy at risk. They may propose other solutions such as moving patients out of dangerous environments. However, having a camera installed will most likely increase accountability with nursing home staff. If employees are aware that their actions are being documented through video surveillance, they may act responsibly and with due care.
Families work hard to choose a safe facility for their loved ones, and once they have made that choice, it is the responsibility of the facility to provide care. We urge lawmakers in Alabama to give residents the power to hold facilities accountable for elder abuse. If you have any concerns about the care of your loved ones, contact a legal professional today who can help you decide on your best next steps.