By Richard Grungo, Jr., member of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Bar. Richard and a certified civil trial lawyer who handles cases involving nursing home abuse. (note by Lowell — does this type of thing go on in Virginia? what are the safeguards against it?)
In 2016 there was a widespread movement to film police abuses with cameras; now it seems that trend is spreading to monitor health professionals offering patients private care services at their homes in New Jersey.
Instances of abuse caught on video so far include a young man with various disabilities whose caretaker was recorded physically abusing him, hitting him forcefully and flinging his head about in anger when she thought no one was watching. Another recording captured an old woman being forced to eat by a caretaker who physically makes her jaw go up and down to chew.
Over the past couple of years in New Jersey, abuse reports have increased 100 percent, which has prompted the Attorney General Chris Porrino to act. Porrino is equipping families with small cameras that they can disguise in order to capture evidence of abuse or maltreatment by caretakers who come to patient homes to provide services.
As more people are choosing to have health care aides come to their homes for private care of loved ones, the risk for abuse is higher. The New Jersey Consumer Affairs Division released the footage of abuse to raise awareness about these horrifying examples of mistreatment at the hands of caretakers that people are paying to help their loved ones—not harm them.
They implemented the Safe Care Cam Program to rent out these surveillance devices, which can cost hundreds of dollars, for free to local families.
They hope that more people will adopt the practice of installing hidden cameras to protect against these flagrant abuses that have been uncovered so far. Families are not required to prove that their loved one may have been abused but will have to explain why they feel that they need to install the camera to qualify for the program.
Once they get the camera, they will have it on loan for 30 days in order to check to make sure that there is no abuse taking place. The idea behind it is two-fold: to expose abuse to give families a chance to protect their loved ones in care, and to send the message to caretakers that they will be held accountable for their actions.
For families whose loved ones have suffered abuse as the hands of their caretakers, it is important to have evidence of abuse to bolster a case and press charges. Having video footage is a sure-fire way to hold those people accountable.