A standing ovation should be given to New York (state) Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and his staff for using hidden cameras INSIDE nursing homes in order to catch negligent and abusive caregivers red handed!  In a news article posted on April 1, 2010, Cuomo announced that the use of cameras have helped convict 30 (thirty!)  employees found to be mistreating nursing home residents.

New York’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has convicted one nursing home company, The Buffalo (N.Y.) News recently reported. In another case, a large nursing home chain has agreed to a civil settlement.

“With the consent of family members, we put hidden cameras in nursing homes across the state, watching over the vulnerable who often cannot advocate for themselves,” Cuomo said in a statement on Wednesday, March 31. “My office is strongly committed to using all the tools at our disposal to make sure people are getting the medical treatment and care they deserve.”

Cuomo announced charges against a total of 22 employees who were employed by two nursing homes, one facility located in Troy and the other near Buffalo. Among the hidden camera findings:

  • Employees allegedly failed to move an immobile patient and take other steps to prevent bedsores.
  • Two nurses and one aide allegedly failed to provide necessary treatment to an elderly woman and falsified records to cover up, while five additional aides are charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly moving the woman without using a mechanical lift.

Think about this: 22 caregivers at JUST two nursing homes were found to not be trustworthy.  New York state has MULTIPLE HUNDREDS of nursing homes, so this news report begs me to wonder aloud how many MORE nursing home caregivers could be guilty of neglect and abuse!  Obviously these problem do NOT just exist in New York state, but in the THOUSANDS of nursing homes throughout the United States and in other countries!

So the next time a nursing home administrator or owner (or any nursing home employee) gets bent out of shape because they seem to think you don’t “trust” them, just remember that some nursing home employees are NOT trustworthy!  When hidden cameras have now documented criminal behavior by nursing home staff, then obviously some of these nursing home people (including caregivers) are simply NOT trustworthy!  So trust your gut when you sense an owner, management person or caregiver isn’t worthy of your trust.  Wise are the family members and friends of nursing home residents who are vigilant and keep a close eye on their loved one — let alone who use a hidden “Granny Cam” to monitor the behavior of staff when they aren’t around!

In my experience of being a health care advocate for my late mother, the least trustworthy employees were often (not always, but often) the ones working evenings, overnights and weekends.  Why?  One night shift nursing staff member said it best, “I prefer to work at night when the bosses aren’t around.” It was reported to me by a CNA-in-training that “Night time Shirley” (as I called her) routinely took seven to eight smoking breaks (off the unit, and outside the building) PER HOUR! Yeah, I’d like working after hours too if I were a smoker and could get away with such criminally negligent behavior.

ACTION: Ask your state’s Attorney General to use hidden cameras inside of nursing home in order to help catch neglect and abuse by staff of the residents entrusted to their care.