We have extensively blogged about the possibility of surveillance cameras in nursing home rooms. There has been an increasing push for legal permission to allow such cameras in rooms in order to capture any abuse or neglect inflicted upon residents by staff or fellow residents, or to even act as a deterrent to prevent such behavior. And now Illinois is on the verge of allowing for such cameras.
Why Use Cameras?
These are the core positives of the use of nursing home cameras. It allows authorities to investigate and potentially punish wrongdoers who physically or sexually abuse residents, who financially exploit them such as by stealing their stuff, or who fail to check in on them frequently enough. And the knowledge of these cameras can even act as a deterrent to those facility staffers who might otherwise neglect their duties, or who might think twice before hitting, restraining, or overdosing a resident.
On the other side, there are naturally privacy concerns. Yet to counter those, notices could be posted in facilities to make everyone aware that cameras are recording activity, and the resident’s or his or her family’s consent to use of the camera. Some states have already taken advantage of camera footage to prosecute or investigate accused nursing home abusers, and a handful have already passed and signed legislation into law permitting the use of cameras in facilities, with certain caveats and restrictions (such as proper notice to visitors that they are being recorded). Residents or their families would be responsible for the equipment and the cost of it.
Close to law in Illinois
Illinois, with the urging and backing of Attorney General Lisa Madigan, has been in a months-long process of considering legislation that would permit (note: not require) residents to use surveillance cameras in their rooms so long as they cover the cost of video equipment and the network feed to monitor the room. Notice would have to be posted at facility entrances and the entrances to specific rooms where the cameras are used, and the cameras must be clearly noticeable in the rooms.
In instances where residents have roommates, the roommates must also consent to use of the cameras. Importantly, nursing homes cannot deny valid requests nor can they discriminate against residents for making the request, otherwise the facilities will face fines. The bill went through multiple revisions, but has made its way from legislative committees, and on the final day of the legislative session, the state House of Representatives and the state Senate passed the bill and sent it to the governor’s office.
Governor’s past involvement in nursing home industry
Governor Bruce Rauner is the lone signatory to approve and make this bill law. Notably, he has had past business in the nursing home industry, having been part of a private equity firm that owned a company running a nursing home chain. Some of those homes were sued after multiple resident deaths at those nursing homes, and the company even faced bankruptcy in light of billions in wrongful death and patient neglect claims against it. It is interesting that a piece of vital legislation to help protect seniors and other residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities will cross the desk of someone with past business relationships with nursing homes that allegedly did not adequately protect residents. It is unclear as of yet whether the governor will sign the legislation.
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