Michigan lawmakers propose bill allowing cameras in nursing home rooms

Michigan lawmakers are proposing a bill that would allow loved ones to install surveillance cameras in nursing home rooms. (MGN PHOTO: Surveillance camera, Photo Date: 4/12/2015)
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LANSING (WILX) (2/7/2020) - Lawmakers are proposing legislation that would install video cameras into the rooms of nursing home residents to help combat the issues of elder abuse.

The bill proposed by Sen. Jim Runestad would allow a representative for the residents to view and watch the resident through the camera, according to our sister station WILX in Lansing.

However, officials from the Health Care Association of Michigan say this bill is an invasion of privacy.

"Think about everything you do in your bedroom and your home. Do you want that recorded and then viewed by your family," said Rich Farran of the Health Care Association of Michigan.

Runestad, a Republican from White Lake, said videotaping is everywhere so why not allow it in a protective setting? He used the example of videotaping dogs in kennels and children in daycare.

However, Farran said installing a camera in an elderly person's room is insulting.

"To compare them to a dog or a preschool setting, these are people who have lived out their lives and raised families themselves. Because they're in a vulnerable place does not mean they can be treated like a dog," Farran said.

According to the National Council on Aging, over 5 million senior citizens are abused each year. However, only one in 14 cases of elder abuse is reported.

But the council said most perpetrators of the abuse aren't staff members, its adult children or spouses.

Farran said the best way to protect senior citizens is to make sure quality care is given, to hire adequate staff and have family involvement.

One study suggests that although the occurrence is low, over 50% of nursing home staff have admitted to some form of abuse. That could fall into physical, psychological, sexual, gross neglect, or financial exploitation.

Despite Farran claiming this bill is an invasion of privacy, Runestad said this will help families feel at ease.

"It's not a violation," he said. "Either they're asking for it themselves or the person they feel they want to make the decisions is because they're incapable of making the decisions."

If the bill passes, residents in nursing homes would need to give their permission first in order for a camera to be installed in their room.

If there are two people sharing a room, both would need to give permission for a camera to be installed.

Runestad said he is hoping this bill will be passed in the next month.