Can I Put a Camera in My Parent's Nursing Home Room?
As nursing home abuse attorneys, we see too many neglect and abuse cases that are only uncovered after a family member is suffering, either from serious bedsores, broken bones, or other illnesses or injuries. Installing a camera in your loved one’s room in the nursing home may help prevent these tragedies from happening. Being able to monitor interactions with staff and other residents will give you peace of mind and let you know if your family member is being treated with care and respect even when you are not there. If you have any concerns or questions about the treatment of your loved one in a nursing home, call our compassionate nursing home attorneys at (630) 527-1595 for help and answers.
There are over 2.5 million Americans currently living in nursing homes or other sorts of long-term care facilities, with the number only growing. And these are among some of the most vulnerable of all citizens. Many live with physically or mentally incapacitating conditions that make it impossible to report any abuse to authorities or loved ones, and even residents without disabilities often feel powerless to report or scared of retribution from their so-called caregivers.
Elder abuse in nursing homes and long-term care facilities is a rampant issue – and with the health conditions experienced by so many of the senior citizens that live in these facilities, it is often difficult to find justice. The Nursing Home Abuse Justice organization reported over 15,000 instances of abuse in 2020 alone – almost two-thirds involved physical abuse, psychological abuse, or gross neglect, while over 1,000 reported cases also involved sexual abuse. This is far from all-encompassing: Nursing Home Abuse Justice relies on self-reporting, so the actual number of incidences of elder abuse in nursing homes and long-term care facilities is almost certainly larger. A sample study of 452 people with senior relatives living in nursing homes published in the Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect reported that 24.3% of the seniors had experienced at least one instance of abuse.
To combat abuse, over the last decade, there has been a legal push to allow residents and their families to install voluntary cameras in nursing home rooms. These cameras add a layer of protection for nursing home residents, providing verifiable proof, in at least some instances, of abuse or neglect.
Thanks to legislation proposed by former Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, then passed by the legislature in 2015, Illinois became one of nine states to legally allow cameras to be placed in the rooms of nursing homes. The Illinois law comes with a few restrictions:
- Any monitoring device must be placed in a conspicuously visible spot in the room.
- Explicit signage outside a resident’s room must state that there is electrical monitoring in progress.
- The resident must obtain written Illinois Department of Health consent from any roommates to install any video recording equipment and must follow any restrictions a roommate places on times that there is recording in progress. If a roommate is unable to consent, then an adult guardian of the roommate may provide the necessary consent forms.
- All costs associated with the installation and maintenance of the camera, excluding the cost of electricity, come at the resident’s expense.
While the Illinois law, and similar laws in other states, is a huge step in the right direction for protecting seniors from nursing home abuse, the above restrictions create their own limitations.
First, there is the necessity of roommate consent. This is obviously a hugely important and non-negotiable step, both legally and ethically. Filming someone without their knowledge, particularly in private, intimate spaces such as a bedroom is a huge violation of a person’s privacy, and by Illinois law, it is already illegal to film someone in places such as hotel bedrooms or changing rooms without their consent.
However, abuse in nursing homes is not committed just by the staff; over 20% of the 15,000 2020 complaints listed above were reported against a fellow resident. There isn’t an easy answer to this problem, but communication between affected residents and nursing home staff about any instances of abuse can help alleviate a painful, often dangerous, situation.
The financial burden resting solely on patients, however, is another issue that has the potential to keep the most vulnerable in harm’s way. Many residents of these facilities are on a strict budget already stretched thin by the costs of the facilities themselves – even cameras on the cheaper end, accompanied by the additional costs to maintain them, are out of reach for those residents who have the fewest options available to them to fight against any abuse they experience.
The Illinois law allowing cameras in nursing homes is a huge step in the right direction for combatting abuse and gross neglect in nursing homes. While it does not provide a universal solution, it does give families a valuable tool for preventing abuse and getting justice for victims.
Families want a safe and supportive nursing home environment for their parents or grandparents. However, that is not always easy to uncover. So, protecting your loved ones from abuse and neglect may mean installing a video camera in their room and monitoring how the staff and fellow residents treat them. If, despite your best efforts, your loved one has been the victim of abuse in a nursing home or residential care facility, contact one of the Collins Law Firm’s experienced nursing home abuse lawyers at (630) 527-1595 or fill out our contact form for a free consultation, and let us help you find the answers and justice you deserve.