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Fight elder abuse by preserving the right to have videocams in residential care facilities (RCFEs) and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), for people who want the protection it can provide

Dear Friend:

 

We are hoping the Hon. California State Senator Lois Wolk, or another member of the California Legislature will carry a bill like the recently enacted bi-partisan Oklahoma law, that confirms the right to have videocams in residential care facilities (RCFEs) and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), for people who want the protection it can provide. Sadly, while many facilities provide good care, there have been abuses and instances of very poor care, including false or misleading nursing notes. Videocams that facility management can use for monitoring and quality improvement and that families can view would help eliminate these incidents.

 

On the other hand, family members can choose to trust that the services a demented relative needs were actually rendered, without having any way to verify it -- and that is the family’s right. People who don't consent to video recording, would be protected from it.

Prominent Geriatric Health Care Providers Who Signed the Petition as individuals, and NOT on behalf of the entities for which they work (which are cited below):

Harry Crowell  IRVINE, CA     [One of the owners of Vista Gardens Memory Care, a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly]

"I am in the Alzheimer's care business and this is a subject every patient asks for. They are concerned for their personal safety. Our facility wants to be as careful as possible. Our employees, visitors and the residents are comfortable that they are watched over as carefully as possible."

 

Laura Mosqueda, MD   [Dr. Mosqueda is the Director of Geriatrics at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine where she is also a Professor of Family Medicine. She is also the co-director of UC Irvine Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect.

 

Robert Neshkes, MD   LOS ANGELES, CA   [Head of Geriatric Psychiatry, West Los Angeles VA Hospital]

"There are many times, I have been uncertain as to what the cause has been for a patient's recent fall, how bad the fall was, and what part of the body took the impact. ICU's for example, commonly have video monitoring of patients in all rooms. Video monitoring allows doctors and nurses to provide better care."

 

James Spar, MD   LOS ANGELES, CA    [UCLA Prof. of Geriatric Psychiatry]

"I have professional experience with physical abuse of elderly residents of RCFE's, and this is one way to prevent it."

 

What are the benefits of videocams? One good example is an RCFE named Vista Gardens Memory Care, in San Diego County in the town of Vista, which was built with cameras installed for the protection of the residents who want video monitoring.  If there is any question about whether a staff person misbehaved, Vista Gardens could find out if it occurred and correct it immediately.  If the resident is found on the floor with a bruise on the head, Vista Gardens could review the video recording to see how and if the bruises occurred when the patient fell out of bed reaching for a night table or in some other manner.  If the bruising was caused by a fall from reaching for a night stand while in bed, the recording would show this and Vista Gardens would simply move the night table closer to the bed. If the recording showed any other reason for the bruising, Vista Gardens would also be able to take corrective actions immediately and notify the appropriate authorities and individuals. Vista Gardens also could review the video of the resident falling, to relay pertinent information to Paramedics or the ER for treatment decisions. If a hallucinating resident were to claim that something improper occurred (e.g., a lady claiming a naked man was in her room), Vista Gardens could review the video to ascertain that it did or did not happen.

 

Unfortunately, the California Department of Social Services' Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD) prohibited video recording in the residents' rooms at Vista Gardens Memory Care, even if a resident fervently wants video monitoring. Neither the resident, nor his/her family, nor Vista Gardens may operate nannycams in the residents' rooms, according to CCLD, even though residents or the residents' health care agents gave a detailed written consent for the video cameras and want the video monitoring for their own protection. CCLD is acting as a proxy for the California Assisted Living Association (CALA) and the California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF).

 

DSS’ CCLD told Vista Gardens that in order to turn on the cameras they had to apply for an Exception Request for Camera Monitoring Program.  Vista Gardens applied July 21, 2011 and predictably has not received any response from Community Care Licensing (CCLD) or The Department of Social Services (DSS).

 

But the truth is that no California or Federal law prohibits video cameras in residents' rooms, where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy only for the residents. The patients or their health care agents have a right to waive the privacy in a limited way for closed circuit video monitoring.  Bottom line: CCLD and DHS do not have the authority to prohibit video cameras, but they do it anyway. But Government (CCLD and DHS) should not even concern itself or try to control what video equipment we use in our bedrooms.

 

A law confirming the right to have videocam monitoring, with the proper resident consents warning signs and privacy safeguards, would greatly enhance protection for residents of nursing homes and RCFEs, and serve as a strong deterrent to harmful behavior, including false or misleading nursing notes. We think it would make it very difficult for SNF or RCFE operators to understaff facilities (and to overload nursing staff to the point of making the well meaning nursing staff inured to patient suffering). Equally importantly, nursing notes would become less fictional if verification were made easy through videocams.

 

Opposition from the nursing home industry lobby, California Association of Health Facilities, is posted here, along with more information about how this bill will combat elder abuse.

 

Please help us get this bill launched by signing this petition.  Its message is simply: "Get the government out of elders' bedrooms. I support a bill that would allow videocam monitoring with the proper resident consents and privacy safeguards, like the recently enacted bi-partisan Oklahoma law, to prevent elder abuse."  Please sign the petition.

 

Thank you for your support and help!

 

Marc B. Hankin,

Elder Abuse Exposed.com

 

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