Could in-room cameras prevent nursing home abuse?

Closed-circuit video is ubiquitous these days. Nearly everywhere we go, we can expect to be caught on camera, whether that is going for a walk along a busy street or stopping off at the grocery store for a few items. These videos can be used to catch criminals, provide alibis, protect property, and much more.

One place that might not be recorded is an elderly loved one’s room in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Sadly, thousands of elderly and vulnerable nursing home residents are abused annually, and it’s possible that having more cameras could slow – or even stop – the abuse.

How could cameras help?

Recording devices, particularly those that capture both video and audio, can catch abusers in the act, whether they turn out to be staff members, visitors, or fellow residents. Regardless of who is perpetrating the abuse, a clear video image is a damning piece of evidence.

Cameras can also capture neglect. If, for example, facility policy states that immobile patients should be moved or repositioned every half-hour, and the video feed shows that your loved one has been alone for hours on end with no visits from staff, then you’ve clearly captured a failure of the home. Such footage can go a long way in ensuring that residents are given adequate care.

What does California law say?

For a long time, California only allowed cameras in common areas of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Back in 2015, however, California’s Department of Social Services decided to allow recordings in patient rooms so long as there was consent. Even with cameras being allowed, there is still a fine line between protecting residents from abuse and invading their privacy. A skilled attorney can help answer any questions you may have about the use of video and audio recordings in this setting.

What do I do if I suspect abuse?

If you’ve already seen signs of abuse or neglect in a loved one, then it’s time to act. Complaints should be made to the administration of the facility and to the state licensing board or long-term care ombudsman. Consider contacting an attorney as well, not just to ensure that the abuse and neglect stops for your loved one, but also to prevent it from happening to someone else in the future.