New Jersey expands protection for nursing home residents

New Jersey leaders have elected to expand a program to ensure that nursing home residents are being treated fairly.

In 2016, New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced an initiative called the "Safe Care Cam" program. According to New Jersey Business, the project enabled people who felt that their loved ones may have been suffering abuse due to in-home care providers could receive a free surveillance camera for 30 days to monitor the behavior.

In a brilliant move, Mr. Porrino and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs have decided to expand that program to include making surveillance available for nursing home residents. This is a step in the right direction when it comes to catching and preventing nursing home abuse.

The program

A press release from the state notes that the expansion comes on the heels of public requests. Now, people in nursing homes may receive the "micro-surveillance equipment" for free for 30 days. These cameras may be hidden in the resident's room, giving him or her or family members the ability to look for evidence of neglect or abuse. The release states that these cameras could otherwise cost as much as $300.

Several people have already provided positive feedback to the program. One person mentioned in the release stated that she had to switch caregivers for her mother, another said she was able to spot an improper care technique and correct the caregiver. Another simply said she was relieved to see her dying husband was being taken care of so well.

Additional measures

In the same release, the state announced another measure to improve elder care. Prior to the release, health aide applicants seeking certification were permitted to begin working in homes on a conditional basis for up to 120 days while the state Board of Nursing reviewed their criminal history background checks. The state has done away with that practice, noting that every applicant must be completely vetted before receiving any certification.

Spotting the signs of abuse

It is difficult to put an exact number on how many elderly people suffer abuse, because many cases go unreported. However, the National Council on Aging estimates that about one in 10 older Americans suffer the behavior in some form, ranging from being financially abused to physically abused.

Family members must be diligent in recognizing the signs that abuse may be happening to a loved one before the behavior causes serious injury or death. Those symptoms include the following:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Unexplained bruises or markings
  • Changes in behavior, such as acting withdrawn or aggressive
  • A noted strained relationship between the patient and certain caregivers

At the first sign of abuse, it is essential for people to report the activity. They may file a complaint with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, or call local law enforcement when a threat is imminent. Lastly, families may file a personal injury lawsuit against the provider in order to recover damages.

Anyone who has concerns about this issue should speak with a personal injury attorney in New Jersey.