Granny Cams: Balancing Privacy with Protection

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Throughout the country, a debate continues to rage about whether to allow granny cams in nursing homes. Now, five states are allowing nursing home residents and their families to deploy so-called “granny cams” in resident rooms to help prevent and deter abuse. Here’s what you should know about these types of cameras.

Why Granny Cams?

In general, seniors living in nursing homes generally have medical conditions and physical limitations that make them especially vulnerable and susceptible to abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Plus, many suffer from cognitive decline and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. These things make elderly residents a target for would-be abusers. Granny cams (like “nanny cams”) are used to catch perpetrators and deter abusers from harming seniors.

The Potential Problems

Recently, Minnesota lawmakers introduced new legislation to allow limited surveillance camera use in nursing homes, making it the ninth state to pass such laws. Currently, cameras are allowed (with certain limitations and exceptions) in the following states:

  • Illinois
  • Texas
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Washington
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • Utah
  • Minnesota (proposed)
  • New Jersey (proposed/restricted)

To date, South Carolina law does not permit cameras in nursing homes. The reason is tied to privacy concerns. Those who oppose the use of cameras in facilities argue that allowing them could infringe upon the privacy rights of residents – and not just those in the room. There are also fears that other residents could inadvertently be captured on film, thus depriving others of privacy rights. Finally, some worry that staff members may not consent to have their images captured.

Alternatives to Granny Cams

It is likely that more states will join the trend of adding cameras for safety and liability protections. These laws generally require the resident or their guardians to consent. But in the meantime, there are simple alternatives that can offer almost as much protection as video surveillance.

  • More frequent family visits – It’s well known that when family members visit more often and stay heavily engaged in a nursing home resident’s care, abuse and neglect tend to be less prevalent. Staying present and engaged will help you catch problems early so you can take action fast.
  • Pictures – If you suspect abuse or neglect in a facility and you are the guardian, do what you can to document problems. This means taking photos, talking to other residents and their family members, and keeping notes to share with investigators and attorneys.
  • Medical Records – If you are a nursing home resident’s guardian or conservator, you have a right to request and review your ward’s medical chart. Often, there are serious problems that can be discovered by just reviewing the chart.
  • Have an Attorney on Call – If you are serving as a conservator or guardian, it’s best to always have an attorney on call for difficult issues. This way you have skilled advice close at hand.

Call a Family Law Attorney Today

Don’t try to manage a complex guardianship or conservatorship on your own. Call the Elliott Frazier Law Firm today and learn more about how to protect your loved one, even while they are in a healthcare facility.

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