If you have a loved one living in a nursing home, one of your biggest concerns is ensuring that the caregivers are doing a good job. But unless you visit the nursing home every single day, it’s doubtful that you can maintain the vigilance necessary to reassure yourself that everything is being handled properly. Setting up a video camera in the room of your loved one is one possible solution, much like “nannycams” are used with your children. But before you set up a camera hidden in a pot of flowers, you need to know the laws regarding video cameras inside the rooms of nursing home patients.
Some Nursing Home Stats to Consider
Before diving into the use of video cameras inside nursing homes, it’s important to know some statistics regarding these facilities.
Per the CDC, there are an estimated 15,000 nursing homes in the U.S. with 1.4 million residents as of 2014, and 70 percent of them are run with profit as the primary goal.
That means that operators who own these homes are most concerned about the bottom line, and that can often lead to understaffed facilities that don’t provide outstanding care.
And according to Drug Watch, the most common types of nursing home abuse complaints in 2015 were physical abuse (26 percent), resident-to-resident abuse (26 percent), gross neglect (18 percent), and verbal or psychological abuse (17 percent).
In fact, there were more than 11,000 total complaints of nursing home abuse in 2015, and the number of complaints is expected to rise as the U.S. population ages, requiring more elderly people to live in these facilities.
The Video Camera Dilemma for Nursing Home Rooms
The prevalence of smartphones equipped with video recording capability has transformed society, as these devices have captured criminal acts that are later used as evidence in trials.
But the permissibility of installing video cameras has become a legal gray area.
Per a piece on the McKnight’s Long Term Care News website, only six states allow video cameras inside private rooms in nursing homes, with Illinois becoming the most recent state to do so.
The Illinois law “includes specifications for video, audio and still cameras in nursing home rooms. It also requires facilities to obtain consent from roommates when one resident requests having a camera installed in their room. Nursing homes must post signs notifying residents and visitors that rooms may be monitored.” There are valid privacy concerns of roommates and others which must always be considered.
The takeaway is that if you want to install a video camera in your loved one’s room in a nursing home, you will have to reside in one of these states and follow the protocols set forth under law.
However, if you don’t live in one of the states with a video camera law, you must obtain permission from the nursing home supervisors before you install a camera.
Some family members of nursing home residents have installed cameras without obtaining permission, and have run afoul of legal entanglements regarding the admissibility of the footage in a lawsuit.
Prior to placing your family member in a nursing home, you should discuss your desire to use a video camera in your loved one’s room and find out the facility’s policy. This could be a deal breaker, because multiple incidents of abuse have been captured on video cameras, which makes them a valuable tool in ensuring the safety and well being of nursing home residents.
If your loved one is receiving care at home, the obvious presence of such cameras may discourage theft and abuse, and provide evidence if it occurs. While many people think of elder abuse only in the context of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and skilled nursing units, such abuse and neglect can frequently occur in a person’s own home by those charged with providing care.
Justice For Nursing Home Residents
If you have a nursing home abuse claim, it is important that you secure the kind of legal representation provided by Miller Kory Rowe LLP. We have the resources to obtain a settlement or to take a case to trial if necessary. Please call us today at 602-648-4045 for a free legal consultation.
Our new partner, Teri Rowe, is a vital part of our nursing home/elder abuse practice and brings her additional skills as an engineer to bear on complex technical and medical issues.