A bill awaiting a vote in the Florida Senate would allow nursing home residents to use electronic monitoring devices to protect themselves from mistreatment. Similar bills have already been signed into law in many other states. Advocacy groups have urged lawmakers across the country to allow recording devices in long-term care facilities in response to widespread abuse and neglect.
Senate Bill 1486
If it is passed and signed into law, Senate Bill 1486 will require nursing homes in Florida to allow residents or their representatives to install video and audio recording equipment in their rooms. If residents share rooms with other residents, they must obtain consent, which can be withdrawn at any time, before installing monitoring equipment. The bill requires nursing homes to draft consent forms for this purpose. SB 1486 prohibits nursing homes from denying admission to, discharging or discriminating against residents who wish to install monitoring equipment, and it imposes a criminal penalty for destroying or tampering with devices or recordings.
Legislation in other states
Several states already have laws similar to SB 1486 on their books. One such law went into effect in Ohio on March 23. Esther’s Law is named after an elderly woman who suffered years of nursing home abuse and neglect. Her suffering was brought to light when her son placed a hidden camera in her room. Esther’s law was passed unanimously by both chambers of the Ohio Legislature.
Protecting the most vulnerable
Elderly nursing home residents are among society’s most vulnerable members. Lawmakers, regulators and nursing home inspectors do their best to protect the elderly in long-term care facilities, but abuse and neglect remain worryingly common. SB 1486 offers vulnerable nursing home residents protection that officials cannot provide, and it should be supported.