Catching NJ’s shady home health aides: Free cams see what’s really going on
To help crack down on unscrupulous home health aides, or deter them from behaving badly, New Jersey launched a program in December that provides free micro-surveillance cameras to concerned residents who want to keep a closer eye on the people looking after their loved ones.
Three months later, there are already talks of expanding the program.
According to Steve Lee, director of the the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, response to the Safe Care Cam program "has been great." It's seen interest from both in-state and out-of-state residents, although it's only available to New Jerseyans.
Lee couldn't share exactly how many cameras have been distributed through the program so far, in the interest of keeping potential wrongdoers on their toes.
Through the program, which was launched with a press conference on Dec. 22, hidden cameras — embedded in everyday household items — are loaned up to 30 days, at no charge, to individuals who provide identification, contact information, undergo a brief training session and enter a contract that the camera only be used as instructed. Participants can request to keep the cameras for longer than 30 days.
So far, Lee said, the division has heard both from residents who received the peace of mind they needed after using the cameras, and those who've had their suspicions confirmed and "took action" after seeing proof that their loved one was not receiving proper care.
In December, the Office of the Attorney General said incidents of disciplinary actions against the state’s Certified Homemaker-Home Health Aides reached nearly 300 in 2016, compared to nearly 200 in 2015 and nearly 140 in 2014.
"This isn't a program that's going away," Lee told New Jersey 101.5 on Wednesday. "We're looking at all avenues to try to expand the program."
Currently, the cameras can only be used in the residences of those who applied for the cameras or those who are receiving care.
Anyone interested in obtaining a Safe Care Cam can call 973-504-6375 and leave a message in a voice mailbox that will be regularly monitored.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.