Esther's Law, which grants nursing home residents and/or resident representatives the ability to authorize and install electronic monitoring devices in resident rooms to monitor the quality of care received in the home, becomes effective in Ohio on March 23, 2022. The law addresses the resident rights to dignity and privacy where there is a roommate involved, and places requirements on the facility to make reasonable accommodations and prohibits them from retaliating against residents who wish to install these electronic monitoring devices. The legislation behind Esther’s Law was sponsored by State Senators Nickie Antonio and Andrew O. Brenner and signed by Governor Mike DeWine on December 22, 2021.
About Esther Piskor
For the last three years of her life, Esther Piskor was abused and neglected in an Ohio nursing home.
Steve Piskor, Esther’s son, put a hidden camera in his mother Esther’s nursing home room when she was in her 70s and living with dementia. He said though he went to visit her often, and the staff never mentioned any difficulties with Esther’s care, it wasn't until he placed a hidden camera in the room that he saw aides yell at her, spray liquid into her face, be rough in her handling and neglect her for long periods.
Although Esther passed away in May 2018, her son, Steve Piskor worked with Ohio lawmakers to create Esther’s Law to enable families the legal ability to monitor staff who care for their loved one.
Resident Right to Dignity, Privacy, and Roommate Rights
All residents of long-term care facilities have rights to dignity, respect, and privacy when receiving care. Having an electronic monitoring device could be invasive to a resident or their roommate. Therefore, the resident and if unable, their representative, must provide consent before an electronic monitoring device may be placed in their room. If the nursing home resident is sharing the room with another resident, then the other resident and/or their representative must also provide authorization. If the roommate or their representative place conditions on their authorization, those conditions must be honored. A roommate may withdraw previously provided consent at any time.
If the nursing home resident’s roommate does not provide consent, then the home must make reasonable accommodations to the resident seeking electronic monitoring by moving the resident to an available room if the resident consents to the move.
Electronic Monitoring is Not a Substitute for Involvement
While electronic monitoring can provide incentives to staff to provide quality of care and treatment with dignity to residents, it does not provide an adequate substitute for good care, family involvement, or personal monitoring of care.
Nursing home residents and families are encouraged to continue their involvement because a resident can still be mistreated outside their room which would not be captured outside the resident room.
What the Facility Can and Cannot Do
Esther’s Law allows homes to post a notification in a clearly visible location outside the resident’s room that electronic monitoring is being conducted in that room. However, a facility cannot deny admission, discharge, and discriminate, or retaliate against a resident because of their decision to install an electronic monitoring device in their room. They also cannot obstruct, tamper with, nor destroy the device or any recording made from it.
Does Esther’s Law apply to assisted living?
Though Esther’s Law applies to the nursing home setting, residents in assisted living/residential care facilities may also be interested in using electronic monitoring. Your long-term care ombudsman can talk with you about options in those homes.
Who Can View or Listen to the Recordings?
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.
When Does Esther’s Law Become Effective?
Esther’s Law becomes effective on March 23, 2022.
Where Can I Find a Copy of Esther’s Law?
Ohio Revised Code: 3721