Video Cameras in Nursing Homes
The legality of an adult child installing a video camera or recording device in the room of his or her parent's nursing home room remains an unsettled question, according to a recent New York Times article.
Many nursing homes, according to the article, prohibit video camera installation in individual rooms, claiming it would violate federal privacy laws under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Very few states have clear laws either permitting or forbidding video monitoring of residents.
In South Carolina, Sen. Paul Thurmond (R-Charleston) recently introduced legislation that would give families the legal right to install a camera in their loved one's room at a nursing home. Installation would be contingent on approval from the resident, as well as approval from any roommates.
The bill would make tampering with the video recording devices illegal, and facilities would have no access to personally owned and installed cameras. Families could use video footage as evidence in court proceedings involving accusations of nursing home abuse or neglect.
NURSING HOME AND ELDER ABUSE STATISTICS
Mistreatment of elderly residents and nursing home abuse continues to be a widespread problem, and continues to rise as our elderly population grows. According to data compiled by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA),
Could In-Room Video Surveillance Help Prevent Nursing Home Abuse?
As your parents age, you may be forced to make the decision to put them in a nursing home, particularly if you are no longer able to provide them with the level of medical attention, treatment and care they require. This can be an extremely difficult and heart-wrenching decision to make. No nursing home can guarantee your loved one's happiness and well-being, even if it may appear to offer a safe and secure facility. Finding a safe nursing home can be a difficult task.
You cannot be with your loved one every minute of the day, yet you do not want your loved one falling victim to mental or physical abuse in a nursing home. Scheduling regular visits may simply not be enough. In-room video surveillance could help detect and prevent nursing home abuse. It could deter individuals from violating your loved one's privacy, as well as make them wary of committing any acts of violence or abuse.
Should Residents Be Able to Give Their Families Permission to Monitor Their Care?
Installing video cameras in residents' rooms brings up some important privacy concerns. It also raises questions about whether an elderly resident should give family members the permission to monitor their care. These cameras are recording 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Residents could be watched while they are getting dressed, undressed, bathing, as well as when entertaining friends. Posted signs would likely be required to warn visitors and staff that they are being recorded.
The primary benefit of obtaining permission to monitor your loved one's care, however, is that you would be confident that your loved one was being treated with the respect, care and attention he or she deserves.
- The New York Times: In Nursing Homes, Eyes That Never Turn Away
- The State: Video cameras in nursing home rooms: Reassuring or intrusive?
- National Center on Elder Abuse: Statistics/Data: Elder Abuse: The Size of the Problem