‘Esther’s Law’ allows families to monitor nursing home residents

by Laura Bednar

A newly passed Ohio law allows nursing home residents and/or resident representatives to install cameras in resident rooms to monitor quality of care.

“Esther’s Law,” went into effect in March as a result of efforts by Steve Piskor and Ohio lawmakers. Piskor put a hidden camera in his mother Esther’s room at an Ohio nursing home and saw she was being mistreated, according to aging.ohio.gov. This led to legal electronic monitoring.

The Ohio Department of Aging website stated, “If the nursing home resident is sharing the room with another resident, then the other resident and/or their representative must also provide authorization.”

Bobby Nero, executive director for Brentwood Health Care Center in Northfield, said the center has not received any new requests for cameras as a result of the law. Brentwood allowed cameras prior to the law.

“We’ve always felt by not allowing cameras, people think, ‘What are they trying to hide?’” Nero said.

Nero has worked in healthcare for over a decade and said he has not seen this type of law. “Obviously it is because of the changing times,” he said, citing the advancements in technology, making devices like cameras more accessible.

The biggest changes in camera policy, aside from more paperwork, are camera regulations, according to Nero. The camera and lens must be stationary, with no angles or zooming permitted.

Families of nursing home residents are responsible for the cost of the camera and according to the Ohio Department of Aging site, “Only residents, their representatives, law enforcement, or whomever otherwise permitted by the resident or their representative may watch or listen to recordings from the electronic monitoring device.”

The law permits nursing homes to post a sign outside a resident’s room stating that electronic monitoring is being conducted. Nero said Brentwood is planning to do posting service.

“The cameras help Brentwood identify issues to improve upon and [gives] families peace of mind,” said Nero. “I do think in some areas it could be possible that people get the wrong impression [of the footage] because they only see half the conversation in that case.” ∞