Abuse and neglect in Illinois nursing homes

A move is underway in Illinois to allow families to install cameras in nursing homes to monitor care of loved ones.

Advances in healthcare and a society that promotes healthier lifestyles than in generations passed have contributed to increased lifespans in America. However, despite living longer, many Illinois residents are unable to live alone and require monitoring or care. The explosion of nursing homes and long term care facilities in recent decades is testament to this.

Sadly, along with an increasing number of people in need of long-term residential care has come a high number of reports of abuse or neglect in nursing homes. As reported by The Fiscal Times, the Illinois Attorney General states that the Illinois Department of Public Health receives at least 19,000 reports of believed nursing home abuse each year.

A 2014 Inspector General report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that as many as 85 percent of nursing homes in the country had at least one abuse or neglect allegation made against them or their staff in 2012.

Can cameras help the problem?

The HamptonRoads.com notes that to date four states have approved legislation allowing the installation of cameras in nursing home residents' rooms. Maryland also allows cameras if the individual facility's regulations allow it. These are often called nanny cams and supporters indicate they can provide assistance in preventing abuse or neglect .

In Illinois, the House of Representatives recently passed a similar bill promoted by the Attorney General. If enacted, families would be required to pay all costs associated with the purchase, installation and maintenance of the cameras. Additionally, signs must be posted outside any rooms with cameras installed alerting people to the presence of the cameras before entering the rooms.

Not everyone agrees

The American Health Care Association has stated concerns about the installation of cameras in nursing homes. The group believes that staff recruitment and retention could become more difficult if this is allowed. Debates also extend to patient privacy and consent.

Along with cameras, the government has changed its rating scale for nursing homes according to WREX.com. The new system makes it harder to receive points for quality measures. As a result, many facilities in Illinois have seen their grades and ratings decline.

Instead of closing such facilities, the government hopes that the nursing homes will makes the necessary changes to improve their ratings. A high level of familial involvement is one recommendation by the government to help guard against abuse or at least be able to notice it early.

What can be done if abuse or neglect is suspected?

The Illinois Department on Aging gives information about how to file a complaint with a long-term care ombudsman or the state Department of Health. Family members are also encouraged to contact an attorney in these situations.

Keywords: nursing home, abuse, neglect, injury