What would you do if your sick loved one was being hit, scolded, and humiliated while in the care of someone who is supposed to be watching over them?
Salim Younes from Metro Detroit decided to take things into his own hands after hearing his father’s complaints; and seeing his sudden weight loss and mysterious bruises while in a Michigan nursing home.
Younes decided to place a hidden camera in his 90-year-old father’s alarm clock.
What he discovered was hard to watch. Video showing his father being thrown around and berated.
Younes’ attorney, Jonathan Marko, described his reaction to the video. “Horrible, unspeakable verbal and physical abuse, torture, this was a living hell for this gentleman.”
The family sued in the case.
And Younes’ father isn’t the only victim.
Around the country videos continue to circulate of the most vulnerable being mistreated.
Marth Eudaley believes if she was able to place a camera in her husband’s nursing home room in Missouri, things could have turned out differently.
“I pushed on the door and it opened, and he was sitting in his chair, head down, lifeless,” Eudaley said.
Before Tom, her husband of 52-years, died, she said he had been horribly neglected.
“The feces in his pants broke through and ran down the sides of the chair,” Eudaley explained.
She said he was covered with bedsores and had spiking fevers.
He was hospitalized, but never recovered.
Here in Michigan, if you suspect abuse in a care facility, there are resources and numbers you can call for help.
But some lawmakers said it’s not enough. Back in January, a bill was introduced that would allow residents or family members to put cameras in their rooms.
“How do we deter it so this doesn’t happen to another loved one? How do we stop this person and get them out of this facility so that everyone is safe? The camera! It’s the only way to prove it,” said Michigan Senator Peter Lucido.
Senator Lucido is one of the sponsors of Senate Bill 77.
Lucido believes a sign in a patient’s room that lets people know they are being recorded would stop abuse.
“Someone might want to say, hey, I want to make sure that my mother or father, or my loved one’s physical needs are attended to. And the only way you’re going to get that if you work all day is to check in once in a while; and a camera,” Lucido explained.
The bill currently sits in the Health Policy Committee as it waits for lawmakers to bring it up for discussion.
State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Salli Pung is in support of the cameras. She advocates for the rights of patients.
“I believe they should have access to the best quality of care. So, if cameras can help with those things, we certainly would be supportive of it,” Pung explained.
But, she adds, there would need to be strict guidelines; since patients would be recorded in very personal settings. Often times with roommates.
Pung says cameras could not only prevent abuse but help hold nursing homes and staff more accountable.
“We have to take a little more time and provide good care. If they had more staff available to do that, then hopefully it would reduce some abuse and staff wouldn’t be so frustrated and feel like they have to run from one task to another,” Pung said.
There is strong opposition. President and CEO of the Health Care Association of Michigan, Melissa Samuel, said cameras could create problems.
“We just feel like surveillance, video cameras is complete intrusion of privacy,” Samuel explained.
Besides being a privacy issue, Samuel believes cameras wouldn’t stop abuse or neglect.
“If a person has malice or intent to do something bad, a camera isn’t going to stop that. They’re going to find a way to do that unfortunately,” Samuel explained.
Samuel believes there are other ways to protect patients from abuse like this.
“We feel the answer is a strong workforce. You want the right people to care for people in these facilities.”
Right now, since there is no law on the books here in Michigan, it’s up to each care facility to decide if they’ll allow the use of cameras in rooms.
But for some families, who have seen their loved ones’ struggle, the cameras make sense.
Senator Peter Lucido told TV5 there are eight states that have already approved so-called “granny cam” laws. It’s still not known when the issue will come back up in Lansing.
If you suspect a loved one or a friend is being abused at a care facility call the toll-free complaint hotline at 1-800-882-6006. You can also submit a complaint using the online form by clicking here.