New Jersey Expands Hidden Camera Program Designed to Fight Elder Abuse

New Jersey Expands Hidden Camera Program Designed to Fight Elder Abuse

After months of success, New Jersey will expand a program offering hidden cameras to concerned citizens looking to monitor caregivers for potential abuse.

The so-called "Safe Care Cam" program began in December of 2016, in hopes of offering some much-needed oversight to the rising home health care and assisted living industries. Interested participants can request micro cameras from law enforcement officials on a loan program and use them to monitor a caregiver to ensure quality care.

The program, championed by Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Division of Consumer Affairs, was introduced in response to growing numbers of abuse cases involving elderly and infirmed patients.

Over the last decade, the number of certified home health care workers has doubled to nearly 59,000. Concordantly, the number of abuse cases has seen a steady rise over the years. In 2014, the number of disciplinary cases cited by the New Jersey State Board of Nursing was 140; in 2015 that number rose to 207, and reached 307 in 2016.

“There has been a significant uptick in the disciplinary matters that were brought year over year, and the industry is growing, so we thought it was a need that needed to be addressed," Porrino said.

The Division of Consumer Affairs cites media coverage as an additional boost to the success of the program.

"For most people, choosing an in-home caregiver is an important decision fraught with concern that the person they’ve hired, no matter how qualified, will mistreat their loved one," the department said in a release on the issue. "And with secretly recorded video of abuse gaining circulation in news accounts and on social media, more and more people are taking a close look at whom they have hired."

The program's expansion to home healthcare and additional nursing homes comes in conjunction with a new rule that gets rid of 120-day "conditional certifications" that allow home health aides to begin working before passing a complete background check. In 2016, there were as many as 100 cases of conditional aides who were later denied licenses due to a failed background check.

For more information on the program, interested parties can can call 973-504-6375, or visit the division's website at njconsumeraffairs.gov.

(Image by Fran Urbano, licensed under Creative Commons)

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