NJ expands hidden cam program to catch elderly patient abuse
Last year, law enforcement officials in New Jersey began lending concerned citizens hidden micro-surveillance cameras so they could find out if their elderly and disabled loved ones were being abused by home health caregivers.
The program was so successful it’s now being expanded.
Attorney General Christopher Porrino said the hidden camera program was originally started last December because home healthcare is one of the fastest growing businesses in the state of New Jersey and the number of home healthcare aid violations had recently started to creep up.
“One of the things that we heard was people wanted to use these cameras not just in their home but also in nursing home facilities,” he said
“So we’ve now expanded it to allow these cameras to be loaned out to individuals who believe that their loved ones may not be getting the care that they’re supposed to be getting inside a nursing home. Now the cameras will be made available for individuals who believe that there’s a need there.”
He said expanding the program to include nursing homes will give people worried about their loved ones “either the peace of mind that all is good, or that there is a problem, and perhaps a referral to law enforcement is appropriate.”
Until now, home healthcare aides could work for up to four months while their criminal background check was being reviewed, but that’s no longer the case.
Porrino said effective immediately, “You’ll have to have as a home health care aide your criminal background check results returned and approved before you can enter someone’s home.”
He stressed the elderly are among our most vulnerable citizens, and “we see, unfortunately, oftentimes people taking advantage and acting inappropriately.”
“There has been a significant uptick in the disciplinary matters that were brought year over year, and the industry is growing, so we thought it was a need that needed to be addressed.”
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Porrino said the message being sent to someone who’s worried about their loved one in a nursing home is simple.
“Come in, let us help give you peace of mind, or get rid of someone who’s not doing the right thing.”
He pointed out another message is being sent.
“The message to the home healthcare aides is we’re watching.”
“Those thinking about not giving someone their medicine when they’re supposed to, someone who’s thinking about stealing or being rough with a patient need to think twice, because now there may be a camera rolling, recording their every move.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com