1 in 10 seniors have experienced some form of elder abuse, as reported by The National Council on Ageing. Yet, just 1 in every 14 cases of senior abuse are reported to the relevant authorities. It’s clear to see that the nation need to get a grip on abuse and secret cameras hidden in care homes across the state could be the answer.
Protecting seniors from abuse
Maryland’s Criminal Law statute states that it is a crime for any individual who is responsible or supervises an adult to neglect or abuse said person. Should sexual abuse, serious harm or death occur as a result of a senior being abused or neglected, the perpetrator will have committed a first degree felony and will face being imprisoned for up to 10 years and a maximum $10,000 fine. Meanwhile, carers who commit second degree abuse or neglect of a vulnerable senior can be punished with a five year prison sentence and a maximum $5,000 fine.
Installing a hidden camera
Ageing individuals who live without others rely on the care and assistance of nurses and care staff to help them wash, dress and eat every single day. With as many as 2 million cases of suspected abuse reported each year, it’s understandable that many family members worry about their elderly relatives and wish to take precautions to ensure their care is as it should be. Following the introduction of Vera’s Law, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene implemented strict guidelines which must be adhered to when electing to electronically monitor the care of a senior resident. These guidelines state that:
Informed consent must be acquired.
A notice must be displayed on the resident’s room and in communal areas where recording is taking place.
The recording device must be in a fixed position and be safe to all who access the room.
A successful outcome
In order to successfully convict a carer of abuse or neglect, concrete evidence is required, which is where recorded footage is beneficial as no one can deny that something untoward has taken place when it’s there in front of you. 96-year-old Eryetha Mayberry’s family suspected that someone was stealing from her, so they placed a hidden camera in her room. However, the footage revealed something even more sinister. Her carer was seen forcing items into her mouth,throwing her out of her wheelchair and shoving her head onto the bed. As a result of the shocking footage Lucy Gakunga was found guilty of elder abuse and neglect and the case highlighted the importance of recording equipment up and down the country.
Senior abuse is a national problem which needs to be tackled in order to protect the nation’s seniors from preventable harm. Thankfully, Maryland permits the use of hidden cameras in care homes and there is strong evidence which supports the installation of them.