But advocates for seniors say the legislation is written in a way that favors the long-term care industry, which supports the bill.
“It is being promoted as pro-resident, but I think it is definitely more pro-facility,” said Nancy Pitra, associate state director of advocacy, AARP Georgia.
Pitra said some changes in the House version may be coming when the Senate takes up the bill, which could improve it. But she said the bill still says any footage that is obtained on a hidden camera couldn’t be used in civil cases and administrative actions. Plus, critics of the bill have repeatedly complained that there are no penalties if staff turns off or blocks cameras in ways the residents or family didn’t authorize.
Ginny Helms, president and CEO of LeadingAge Georgia, which represents nonprofit and mission-driven senior care providers, said her members want the bill to pass. She said it’s needed to address staff shortages. She said the legislation makes it clear families have a right to cameras that are out in the open, which “provides oversight protection for residents without the adversarial environment that hidden cameras create for staff.”
Pitra said senior advocates had pushed for a bill authorizing cameras in nursing homes for several years before the Supreme Court decision authorized them. But the industry opposed the legislation, and it went nowhere. Now, they want legislation, Pitra said, to rein in what the Supreme Court case allows.
She said the legislature should not limit those rights in a way that hurts families. She said the General Assembly has already protected the industry by passing legislation that blocks civil lawsuits in cases of neglect that happened during the pandemic.
“If we’re going to pass this legislation, please let it be something that fully protects the residents and gives their families rights for once,” she said.