Granny Cams in Nursing Homes
Most caregivers in Nursing Homes across the country are dedicated professionals who diligently provide the best care to their patients. Many develop personal relationships with patients and care for them as they would their own parents.
Unfortunately, there are exceptions where patients are mistreated. Patients who suffer dementia or Alzheimer’s or patients with no one checking in regularly can be vulnerable.
Today cameras are everywhere. If we are on a highway, at a stop light, walking down an urban street, in a store, at a bank, in an office building, chances are good that we are on camera. As a society we choose to give up some of our right to privacy for security – yes Big Brother is Watching! With the advancement of technology, the old grainy black and white VHS security tapes have been replaced by clear and crisp color digital images.
So in a world of Nanny Cams where parents watch their children at home or see how the babysitter is treating their baby on their mobile devices, it’s only natural that family members of nursing home residents install Granny Cams in patient rooms.
Laws regarding Granny Cams vary from state to state. To date Illinois, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington have laws or regulations that allow families to place cameras in the resident’s room. The Missouri Legislature tabled discussion regarding Granny Cams in 2015.
In Kansas, SB 456 was submitted in 2016 to committee in the Kansas Legislature to rule on Granny Cams in patient rooms. In 2013 a family successfully sued an Andover, Kansas Nursing Home facility based on the elder abuse recorded on a Granny Cam. Dan Giroux, the Colcher family attorney says, “When you see a video, you know a picture speaks a thousand words… When you watch the video you are in shock. There is no human being in the world that should be treated the way.”
In this case, the family noticed bruises on the stroke victim who was mentally incapacitated. The victim told family members she was scared but the family had no evidence to make accusations. They installed a Granny Cam and that first night were horrified to see the woman dropped on the floor and left there for 45 minutes. When the victim crawled to the door and called for help the same orderly returned and drug the victim to the middle of the room and left her on the floor again.
Rules vary from state to state however typically the patient or substitute decision maker must approve the use of a camera. A notice of a camera in use must be placed outside the room and the camera must be in plain sight. If the patient has a roommate, the roommate must grant permission or the facility must make accommodations.
Owners of Nursing Homes in states with no laws for or against cameras in patients’ rooms find themselves in a no-win situation. If they allow cameras they are challenged by caregivers who refuse to attend to patients with cameras or cover the camera while giving care. Some caregivers leave to work for facilities that don’t allow cameras. If the owner does not allow cameras the customer may feel they have something to hide.
Although cameras protect the elders from abuse and neglect by acting as a deterrent and providing court admissible evidence, it is also an invasion of privacy for the patient and the caregiver. Does the patient really want to receive intimate care on camera with family members watching? The person recording the patient may also be at risk because a chance recording of nudity or sexual activity can be punishable under section 162 of the Criminal Code. (Criminal Code, RSC, 1985, c C-46, ss 183.1 and 184)
What is your opinion regarding Granny Cams? Is it necessary to guarantee grandma is getting the best of care? It an invasion of privacy?