In some states, clinicians are debating the value of installing video surveillance equipment in nursing homes to monitor the care that residents receive. The nursing home industry opposes the measure as an invasion of privacy.
Advocates say the cameras offer a more immediate and accurate way to prevent and expose elder abuse than other methods, including background checks of nursing home staff. To protect privacy and the rights of staff, cameras must be clearly displayed and the nursing home must be notified that a resident (or her representative) is installing it. Otherwise, the monitoring would be considered illegal covert surveillance.
Although no state prohibits cameras in nursing homes, only Texas and New Mexico have legislation that addresses use of the so-called granny cams in a nursing home resident's room. To date, about a dozen states have or are debating legislation to regulate the granny cams. The cost of a Web-camera system ranges from about $600 to over $1,500, plus service charges.
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Three out of every ten nursing homes have been cited for potential life-threatening deficiencies in care. And an estimated 1 in 20 elderly nursing home residents experiences some form of abuse, according to the Florida Agency of Health Care Administration.
"Use of Cameras to Monitor Nursing-Home Care Is Subject of Controversy," University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign News Bureau, M. Reutter, July 27, 2004.