By Sen. Jim Runestad
15th Senate District
Spinal Column July 2020
Elder abuse is a very real threat. And to help prevent it, I need your help.
Seniors in our community have faced many challenges already in 2020, from the dangers of the coronavirus, to its effect on our way of life and our families. Another threat many seniors have been facing is the danger of elder abuse in nursing homes.
In recent weeks, we have seen a 75-year-old Detroit man be punched repeatedly by a younger resident who was placed in the home to recover from the coronavirus. These types of events happen more often than we realize.
One in six seniors aged 60 or older have experienced some form of abuse in the past year alone, according to the World Health Organization. Personally, I have seen video after video of abuse in nursing homes. I have seen a WWII veteran being hit and knocked from his bed, a grandmother screamed at and berated, and an elderly woman being manhandled and thrown from her wheelchair.
That is why I’ve been working for years to pass legislation that would give residents and their families the option of installing a camera in their own room if they choose to do so.
My legislation, Senate Bill 77, would ensure that families can watch out for their elderly loved ones. And in order to get this bill passed into law, I need your support to convince my colleagues. Please visit SenatorJimRunestad.com to sign the petition on my homepage to let leaders in Michigan know that residents should be allowed to install a camera in their nursing home if they wish.
Currently in the state of Michigan, nursing home administrators can — and nearly always do — prevent residents and their families from setting up a camera at all.
My bill would restore this right for those most vulnerable. If a resident is sharing a room with others, all residents of the room would have to sign off on having the camera. Signs would have to be posted at the entrance of the room, and residents or their family members would have to be responsible for installing and monitoring the camera. There are a host of other provisions included in this bill to protect patients’ medical privacy.
At the very least, allowing cameras inside rooms would act as a deterrent to bad and neglectful behavior. At the very best, they would give families assurance that their loved ones are getting the care they need.
I know a great many nursing home administrators and workers who are the absolute salt of the earth and who give our seniors all the care they are entitled to. But if — heaven forbid — something horrendous does happen, cameras would provide video evidence that would be admissible in court, and that would help ensure families receive justice.
I encourage everyone to visit SenatorJimRunestad.com and sign the petition as soon as possible. I am calling on nursing homes to allow residents to install a camera if they choose; I’m calling on my colleagues to join me in passing this legislation; and I am calling on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to support this effort.
Now I am asking you to join me, too. Together we can make a difference for seniors in our community.
This op-ed appeared in the July 22 edition of The Spinal Column. State Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, represents Michigan’s 15th District.