But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, disagreed with the Senate’s changes. The bill died shortly before the end of the legislative period on Wednesday evening.
“Residents and families won tonight, and we’re excited to see that the rights that residents and their families have under applicable law are protected,” said Nancy Pitra of AARP Georgia, who encouraged members to contact lawmakers in to turn to the opposition. “It was the right political decision to protect the residents.”
Without a bill, it is unclear whether some in the nursing home industry will allow families to view cameras or other types of surveillance, as the court ruled that it is legal for residents with security concerns to hide a “grandma camera” in a room of a loved one.
“The biggest lesson for lawmakers was the reminder that when these people are in long-term care, they are at home,” Quinn said. “People who live in these environments have the same rights as we do in our homes.”
The long-term care industry strongly supported the bill to soften the Supreme Court’s decision. The court’s decision came in a hidden camera case in the nursing home room of World War II veteran James Dempsey in Atlanta. His family had put the camera in the 89-year-old’s room after worrying about home security.
The video revealed Dempsey’s troubling final moments when the nurse ignored his repeated requests for help and said he couldn’t breathe. This video resulted in criminal charges against three caregivers, one of whom argued that the recording was not allowed because she did not consent to it.
The court ruled that Dempsey and his family acted lawfully in setting up the camera because of security concerns and the nursing home room was the man’s residence.
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Families can ask long-term carers to allow cameras as a tool to protect loved ones, said Kathy Floyd, executive director of the Georgia Council on Aging. But if you already have security concerns, it might make sense to place a hidden camera.
Quinn, of the Alzheimer’s Association, said abuse was common among people with dementia who live in nursing homes, and cameras might be the only way for families to spot problems as residents may not be able to see what was happening to report.
However, Quinn said that improving care should be the ultimate goal. “If we reject this bill, we must all say: how can we do better in this situation?” She said. “We are all in favor of long-term care support measures that support a better workforce in direct care.”