Cameras in nursing homes -- granny cams -- should they be installed?

January 27, 2009 by The Farber Law Group

A few months ago we wrote about the several states considering legislature regarding installing hidden cameras in nursing homes. We first became aware of these cameras -- dubbed "granny cams" -- when Elliot Spitzer announced that hidden cameras in New York nursing homes led to the arrest of 19 nursing home employees for serious cases of abuse.

I recently came across a posting on The Famous Nursing Blog which discussed the merits of installing cameras "Security cameras in Nursing Homes -- Useful or Wasteful?" Here's what the article discusses:

Pros:

  • May provide confidence in the care a loved one is receiving in a nursing home
  • Monitors care of loved ones
  • Cost can be factored into other necessary overhead costs.
  • Security cameras minimize the nursing home owner's liability when an employee performs a wrong act, thus decreasing an owner's liability.
  • Provides evidence of wrong-doing.
  • State legislatures may mandate cameras so they may be legal.

Cons:

  • Cost -- cameras cost between $630 and $1,590 with monthly fees which charge at least 20-30$ monthly. Adds to overhead.
  • Nursing home staff and operators believe cameras are an invasion of privacy
  • Nursing home staff believe that "compromise a patients dignity", filming private acts like toilet and bathing activities.
  • Unless legislatures mandate them, they may be illegal.

Whatever your feelings are about cameras, if you are evaluating nursing homes for your loved one, you might check our Nursing Home Resources. We have lists of agencies which might help you in making your decision.

If you have a loved one who has been seriously injured in a nursing home due to abuse or neglect, contact The Farber Law Group. We have more than 30 years experience in representing victims of nursing home abuse and their families. Injuries can include pressure sores, falls, over medication, broken bones, medication errors, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. We will provide you with a free and confidential case evaluation.

Comments

While the vast majority of health care workers are honest and caring professionals, I believe that cameras in nursing homes are a great idea to help protect vulnerable patients from abuse. Cameras can catch an abuser in the act, and could very well prevent it from occurring in the first place. Knowing that their actions are being monitored, would-be abusers are likely to think twice before they act.

More importantly, caregivers should be well screened prior to and throughout their employment. Health care workers should receive sensitivity training and also be educated regularly about what constitutes abuse and what they should do if they witness or suspect abuse. Guidance and support on how to cope with difficult patients should also be offered regularly.

Having worked in various long term care settings, I can say that it can very hard to identify abuse. When suspicions are raised, abusers can be very good at pointing blame to other people or circumstances. With most caregivers at nursing homes working in shifts and also in teams, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly who is responsible when an injury or theft is finally detected.
Cameras may be a useful tool, but even with such measures in place, the truth is that almost everyone admitted to a nursing home needs an advocate. With family or close friends staying vigilant, abuse is less likely to occur.