Our View: Measure would fight abuse, neglect and theft in Illinois nursing homes

We support a bill in Springfield that would allow for video and audio monitoring devices in nursing homes to help combat and prove abuse.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office said Illinois has more than 860 nursing homes with more than 76,000 residents. Those numbers likely will increase as the state’s population ages. As a result, the about 5,000 complaints a year of abuse, neglect or theft of property by nursing home staff also is likely to increase. The Illinois Department of Public Health found 106 allegations to be valid in 2013.

Allowing residents to install audio or recording devices in their nursing home rooms should help deter abuse of nursing home residents. It also should help prove incidents of abuse, neglect or theft that might have been swept aside in the past because of a lack of evidence.

One key part of the bill makes it fair and not an invasion of personal privacy: All residents in a room would have to approve the installation of a camera. If one resident wants it installed but a roommate does not, then the camera will not be installed.

The legislation (House Bill 2462) also prohibits a nursing home from retaliating against anyone for using the devices.

Three other states allow for the use of audio and recording devices in nursing home rules. The bill is awaiting a signature from Gov. Bruce Rauner.

We urge Rauner to follow suit and sign this piece of legislation, which would help fight abuse, neglect and theft in Illinois nursing homes.