Camera Monitoring in Nursing Homes May Soon Be Allowed in Illinois

If passed, a bill in Illinois would make it legal for nursing home residents to have cameras and recording devices installed in their rooms.

According to the Chicago Tribune, a new proposal in Illinois, advanced by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, seeks to allow camera monitoring systems in nursing homes. Designed to prevent poor treatment inflicted on the elderly, these devices would be allowed in the rooms of nursing home residents as long as the residents consent and their family members agree to cover the cost. Under current law in Illinois, it is illegal for nursing home residents to have cameras and recording devices installed in their rooms.

Illinois is not the first

The Chicago Tribune states that five other states, including Maryland, Washington, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma, already allow cameras to be used in care facilities. However, this is not the first time legislation of this nature has been proposed in Illinois. In 2007, a bill that would have allowed cameras in nursing homes failed, because an assessment conducted by the state concluded that there wasn't a need.

Consent may be difficult to determine

While many believe that these cameras could be extremely helpful in nursing home neglect situations, others are worried that consent to be monitored may be difficult to discern for some seniors who live in long-term care facilities. For example, it may be challenging for seniors whose mental capacity has been impaired by a stroke to convey what they actually want. Additionally, others are concerned that some seniors may not want to be recorded while they are in their rooms, out of a concern for privacy, especially those who rely on another person to get dressed or those who wear a diaper.

Recognizing the signs of elder abuse

At this point, nursing home cameras are still prohibited and many of the elderly in Illinois remain at risk for neglect and abuse. Therefore, family members should be alert for the following warning signs of physical, emotional and sexual abuse:

  • Physical-according to the National Center on Elder Abuse, physical abuse occurs when one person causes another person pain by using physical force. Nursing home residents who are physically abused may develop unexplained bruises, black eyes, lacerations, cuts, punctures, untreated injuries and fractures.
  • Sexual-those who are sexually abused may incur bruises around their breasts or genital area, contract a venereal disease, experience vaginal bleeding or have torn, stained or bloody underclothing.
  • Emotional-Elderly nursing home residents who are emotionally abused may become nonresponsive and withdrawn, or exhibit unusual behaviors.

Emotional, sexual and physical abuse can have a significant impact on a nursing home resident's health and lifespan. If you believe that one of your loved ones may have been the victim of abuse while residing in a nursing home, please contact a lawyer to find out what your legal rights are.

Keywords: nursing home, abuse, neglect