Soon, families in at least one U.S. state will be able to secretly monitor home health aides and other in-home caregivers using government-owned micro-surveillance cameras.
The new “Safe Care Cam” program was announced Thursday by New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the state’s Division of Consumer Affairs. The goal of the program? To address New Jersey residents’ rising concern about caregiver abuse.
Specifically, the program makes micro-surveillance cameras available free-of-charge to any New Jersey resident who thinks their loved one is being neglected or abused by home health aides or other in-home caregivers. Families can keep the government-owned micro-surveillance cameras for 30 days at a time, unless families make a reasonable extension request to the Division of Consumer Affairs.
“Anyone who suspects a loved one is being abused by an in-home caregiver should not be left to feel helpless or without recourse,” Porrino said in a statement on the New Jersey Attorney General website. “Cameras don’t lie, and the abuses they’ve revealed are shocking.”
Quality micro-surveillance cameras can cost as much as $300, and many families can’t afford them, Porrino said.
“We hope that the Safe Care Cam program will provide peace of mind for family members, while at the same time serving as a strong deterrent and reminder to unscrupulous care providers that we will prosecute their cases aggressively,” Porrino added.
In the past 10 years, the number of Certified Homemaker-Home Health Aides (CHHAs) eligible to work in the New Jersey has risen from 26,618 to 43,506, according to the AG’s office. The number of CHHAs that have been suspended, revoked or disciplined by the New Jersey State Board of Nursing totaled almost 300 in 2016. The CHHAs’ alleged crimes included criminal sexual contact, assault, stolen identity and theft.
The problem appears to be getting worse in the state. In 2015, almost 200 CHHAs were disciplined; in 2014, almost 140 were disciplined.
Written by Mary Kate Nelson