Investigator: 'Granny cams' used to capture elder abuse

5:06 PM, Jul 5, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- If it weren't for the hidden camera he set up inside his mother's room at the MetroHealth nursing home,  Steve Piskor says he probably wouldn't have known that nurses aides were roughing up his 78-year-old mother. 

Piskor would like to see Ohio pass a law that would mandate the use of so-called "granny cams." Currently, the state has no law that addresses the use of these hidden cameras.

"This is a room that is their home. They (residents) have a right to do what they want in their home," said Piskor.

Granny cams are legal in a number of states, including Texas, and they're used by family members to give them peace of mind about the care their elderly loved ones are receiving.

Generally, granny cam laws prevent anyone from covering or shutting off the camera or kicking a patient out of a nursing home for using a camera.

Georgia Anetzberger is considered an expert on elder abuse.  She's an editor of the Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect. She was asked about hidden cameras versus the employees' right to privacy.

"Their greater duty is to insure that individual is safe and well-treated, " said Anetzberger.

She says patients like Esther Piskor, who suffers from dementia, are especially at risk.

"There tends to be a much higher occurrence of both physical as well as psychological abuse," Anetzberger said.

Hidden cameras can be purchased both locally and on-line. They come concealed in eyeglasses, pens, watches, clocks and just about anywhere a pinhole lens can fit. 

In addition, those who support granny cams point out that surveillance cameras are everywhere nowadays, including convenience stores.

"Why are we putting more value on a cash register than an 85-year-old woman who can't speak for herself in a nursing home, " said David Krause, an attorney who has sued nursing homes for abuse.

State representative Matt Lundy, of Elyria, says he'll consult with fellow lawmakers about possibly introducing legislation mandating the use of granny cams.

"If you're doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about," said Lundy.


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