California State Senator Bob Huff is considering introducing a bill in California, like the recently enacted Oklahoma law, that would confirm 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. Having videocams that families can monitor and that facility management can use for monitoring and quality improvement would help eliminate these incidents.
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 has misbehaved, Vista Gardens could find out if it occurred and correct it immediately. If a patient has bruises one morning, Vista Gardens could review the video recording to see that the bruises occurred, for example, when the patient fell out of bed reaching for a night table. The solution is to move the night table closer to the bed. If the resident is found on the floor with a bruise on the head, Vista Gardens could review the video of the resident falling and relay pertinent information to paramedics or the ER for treatment decisions. Also, 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 not happen.
Unfortunately, the California Department of Social Services’ Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD) and the Department Health Services (DHS), acting as a proxy for the California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF), have told Vista Gardens Memory Care that they may not conduct video recording in the rooms or allow anyone to conduct any video recording in the residents' rooms, even if the resident fervently wants the monitoring. CCLD and DHS have prohibited video cameras in Vista Gardens Memory Care, even though residents or the residents’ health care agents have given written consent for the video cameras and really want the video monitoring for their own protection. In addition, CCLD and DHS have prohibited the video cameras, even though there is no California law prohibiting video cameras in residents’ rooms, where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy only for the residents, who can waive their right to privacy to allow the video monitoring.
We believe that confirming the right to have videocam monitoring with the proper resident consents and privacy safeguards would greatly enhance protection for residents of nursing homes and RCFEs, and serve as a strong deterrent to harmful behavior.
Please help us get this bill launched by sending a fax to Senator Bob Huff at (916) 651-4929, or calling his Sacramento office at (916) 651-4029. You can send Sen. Huff a short email through this URL. Tell him, “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 also let us know if you have sent a message to Sen. Huff.