OKLAHOMA CITY – Pictures and memories are all that Christopher Rich has left of his beloved mother, Anita. She died in September, and for the last several months of her life her son fought to protect her.
“After several weeks in the nursing home, we started noticing bruising, we started noticing some sores, we started noticing her behavior changed. And I said ‘Let’s get a camera and put it in here.'” Rich said.
The camera captured his mother’s horrific abuse. Rich says when he confronted the staff, they threatened to evict Anita if he continued the surveillance.
The district attorney is now prosecuting those staff members, but Rich says it was a terrible end for such a great woman. “My parents had been together for 57 years.” He said.
Saturday, he was celebrating. The Protect Our Loved One’s Act went into effect Friday, and it protects other families in a similar situation.
“What our law did was, it gives you the clear right to be able to use a camera in a loved one’s room, period.” Wes Bledsoe said. “And that will help, we believe, to improve the safety of residents and their quality of care.”
Bledsoe says his grandma died a horrifying death because she was neglected in a nursing home. He says back in 2000, hidden cameras would have helped his family intervene. “It took me 12 ½ years to get here to this day.” He said.
The law also says the family owns exclusive rights to the film and it can be used in court. It is a criminal offense if anyone tampers with it.
Rich says even the thought of someone watching protects their loved ones from staff members who could harm them.
“It’s a great day for all of the state of Oklahoma, to know that you can legally put it in there.” Rich said.
Residents will fill out a form and the submit it to nursing home administrators before the family puts in the cameras. Senior advocates are working with surveillance companies to make security cameras affordable for all nursing home residents and their families.