BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — When she visited her mother in a Louisiana nursing home, Lucie Titus found her with a black eye and severe back pain that the Alzheimer’s patient couldn’t explain.
Titus questioned the Slidell nursing home’s staff and she said they couldn’t explain what caused the injuries. Shortly thereafter, a compression fracture was discovered. Titus asked to install a video camera system in her mother’s room and was rebuffed by home administrators.
She believes if she could have seen what caused her mother’s injuries, treatment could have been quicker and involved less pain. Titus filed a lawsuit to set up the video monitoring, but her 92-year-old mother died in November 2017 before the issue was resolved.
Titus urged House lawmakers Wednesday to pass legislation allowing families to mount video cameras in their loved ones’ nursing home rooms and monitor them from afar.
“It would answer so many questions for the residents, the staffs, the doctors who are literally guessing about what happened,” she told the House Health and Welfare Committee. “It would render better medical care for people like my mother who could not speak for herself.”
Nursing home owners opposed the legislation, putting in dozens of cards objecting to the bill, but couldn’t stop its advancement. The committee voted 9-1 to send the measure to the House floor for debate.
Rep. Helena Moreno, a New Orleans Democrat, said her proposal would offer peace of mind to family members trying to keep track of a parent or grandparent in a nursing home and would help ensure nursing home residents’ safety.
“What’s wrong with just having an extra set of eyes, with having a loved one being able to check up on you?” she said.
Mark Berger, executive director of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association, was the only nursing home representative to speak in the committee hearing. He said the organization had concerns about “patient privacy and the ease of hackers to access these web feeds.”
The cameras would be voluntary. The costs would have to be paid by the nursing home patient or family member. Any roommate — or a legal guardian — would have to agree to the camera installation. Nursing homes would be prohibited from ousting or retaliating against residents who choose to install the monitoring device.
“A camera is a game-changer,” said Rep. Dodie Horton, a Haughton Republican who backed the bill.
Several states have passed similar laws, Moreno said, and more are considering them. Andrew Muhl, advocacy director for AARP Louisiana, called it “a very common-sense approach.”
Rep. Larry Bagley, a Stonewall Republican, was the only committee member to vote against Moreno’s proposal. He said he’s “not totally against it” but also worried about privacy.
Moreno said video monitoring feeds are allowed in daycares and kennels.
“Who are we trying to protect here?” she asked. “None of those opposition cards (came from) a resident in one of these homes or a family member of a resident in any of these homes.”