NORTH CAROLINA (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Seniors of Urban Living, or the SOUL Network, is pushing North Carolina state lawmakers to sponsor a bill allowing families to monitor their loved ones in nursing home facilities electronically.

The U.S. Department of Justice says 10% of people over 65 experience some elder abuse in any given year. Members of the SOUL Network say they are passionate about fighting this abuse because many of them have dealt with the aftermath themselves.

Shaleiah Sanders lost her grandmother to COVID in January 2021 while she was staying in a nursing home. After obtaining her grandmother’s medical records, she learned troubling details about what happened the day her grandmother died.

“We saw that she laid on the bed without receiving CPR for at least 7-15 minutes before they even tried to administer CPR because they couldn’t find her medical chart,” Sanders said.

Sandra Thomas is the founder of the SOUL Network. She says she has photographic evidence of her uncle Benjamin “Bubba” Scott’s neglect in his nursing home, but state investigators found no wrongdoing.

“He wasn’t being fed properly. He was not being groomed and kept and washed and showered,” Thomas said.

Thomas and her team are now proposing the Benjamin “Bubba” Scott Bill, which would allow nursing home residents and their families to put surveillance cameras in resident rooms. Already, 14 states have adopted a law to this effect.

“A lot of people are getting away with a lot of things that we don’t see behind closed doors,” said SOUL Network member Martha Hunter.

Opposition to such a bill stems from consent and privacy concerns. But Thomas says as long as the resident and their family agree, bedroom cameras are a surefire way to monitor what goes on inside care facilities.

“In this situation, we have vulnerable seniors that can’t protect themselves. So, we have to step in on their behalf,” Thomas said. “I would love to see this bill written and structured in a way that would give family members some peace of mind.”

Currently, the group is trying to find a state representative or senator to write and sponsor the bill. They say they won’t give up until they do and are planning marches and events to raise support.