Louisiana could join a wave of states adopting “Grannycam” bills that allow family and guardians of nursing home residents to install video cameras in their rooms.
The Louisiana House Wednesday unanimously approved House Bill 281, sponsored by Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, which will prohibit nursing home administrators from denying a family or guardian request to place a camera in a loved one’s quarters.
“I think this is a really important bill,” said Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans. “It provides peace of mind and an extra set of eyes.”
Moreno originally filed the bill but amended it to name Talbot as the main sponsor because she will be sworn into her newly elected office in the New Orleans City Council before the Legislature adjourns.
She said the bill does not mandate room cameras, requires families cover all camera-related costs, would only be permitted after the family and resident “sign a variety of privacy waivers” and secures consent of roommates.
Moreno cited testimony by Lucie Titus during a March 28 hearing before the House Health and Welfare Committee.
Titus recounted how she found her 92-year-old mother, an Alzheimer’s patient in a Slidell nursing home, with a black eye and severe back pain that she couldn’t explain.
When Titus asked to install a video camera in her room so she could monitor her mother, the nursing home refused. Titus filed a lawsuit to challenge the denial, but her mother died before the case was heard.
Moreno said a video camera could have verified the nursing home’s claim that Titus’s mother incurred her injuries in a fall.
“This is not just a way to protect the residents, but the nursing home as well,” she said.
Rep. Larry Bagley, R-Stonewall, voted against the bill in committee but changed his mind Wednesday, admitting, “I made a mistake.”
The bill was opposed by the Louisiana Nursing Home Association, which claims cameras would erode patient-caretaker trust and make it even more difficult for them to hire workers.
By the time the bill left the floor, 59 representatives had signed on as co-sponsors. It now goes to the Senate and, if adopted, will be passed to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk for his signature.
Louisiana is among a dozen states considering “granny cam” bills this year, including Maryland, Texas, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri, according to the AARP Foundation.
At least six states have adopted similar legislation, including Florida, which incorporated a “granny cam” provision in an omnibus bill addressing elder abuse and nursing home standards after 13 nursing home residents died during a power failure in the wake of Hurricane Irma in September.
The AARP Foundation’s 2017 national scorecard for elderly services ranked Louisiana 40th in the nation for long-term care services and 50th for “quality of life and quality of care.”
“At the end of the day, these are our parents and grandparents and maybe, someday, many of us will be residents in these facilities,” Moreno said.
A version of this article appeared on Watchdog.org.
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