The Edmond Sun

Opinion

May 8, 2013

AARP proud of new law to protect Oklahomans from nursing home abuse

EDMOND — News reports said they put a hidden camera in their mother’s nursing home room because they thought someone was stealing her money.

When they watched the tape, they forgot about the money.

First, an aide stuffed the 96-year old’s mouth with latex gloves. Then, she and another woman hit her on the head, taunted her, jerked her out of her wheelchair and shoved her head to get her to lay down.

It happened in Oklahoma City — and it was all captured on videotape.

But did you know Oklahoma nursing homes can currently prohibit the use of video cameras in a resident’s private room?

That’s why AARP Oklahoma fought to pass a new law that will help protect Oklahoma’s most frail and vulnerable residents from nursing home abuse.

We worked with Sen. Ron Justice, R-Chickasha, and Rep. Harold Wright, R-Weatherford, on legislation that will allow nursing home residents to have video surveillance in their rooms at their own expense. It will allow footage captured by personal surveillance to be admissible in court and it addresses privacy concerns if residents share a room.

After many months of work with aging advocates, Senate Bill 587 passed the legislature with unanimous, bipartisan support and was recently signed into law by Gov. Fallin.

When it takes effect, this new law will add an extra layer of safety for Oklahoma nursing home residents; give families extra piece of mind and may even save lives. It will also require nursing homes to notify residents they have the option to place a camera in their room and that if they choose to do so they cannot be retaliated against.

AARP’s vision is a society in which all people live with dignity and purpose, and fulfill their goals and dreams.

We believe that state government should pass laws that protect people from abuse and ensure the quality of long-term care services. SB 587 is an example of how our volunteers and staff work with state lawmakers to make things better for older Oklahomans.

We applaud Gov. Fallin for signing SB 587 and would like to publicly thank Sen. Justice and Rep. Wright for their leadership on protecting nursing home residents from abuse.

 

MARJORIE LYONS, a retired nurse, is state president of AARP Oklahoma. For more information on AARP visit www.aarp.org/ok.

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