Hidden Cameras in Nursing Homes Gaining Popularity
Many families, facility managers, and law-enforcement officials have turned to hidden cameras to uncover nursing home abuse and mistreatment. According to the Seattle Times, specialists in the long-term care industry say the use of “granny cams” is spreading despite the legal and privacy issues surrounding their use.
Violette King, founder of the nonprofit advocacy group Nursing Home Monitors, argues that cameras are “the only solution.” She believes that since there is heightened awareness of nursing home abuse , people may be more accepting of cameras in facilities.
The rising popularity of “granny cams” may be associated with their success in recent high-profile cases. This past spring, an Ohio man used a camera in a desk fan to catch two nursing home employees hitting his mother. Evidence caught on camera was also the basis for a wrongful-death lawsuit in New Jersey and the arrest of 22 workers caught mistreating nursing home residents in New York.
The long-term care industry has fought attempts to legalize the use of hidden cameras citing insurance costs and resident and employee privacy issues. They have also argued the cameras will make it more difficult to hire staff and incidents caught on tape could be a misrepresentation of facts.
Cameras are legal in both Texas and New Mexico, but their use is not widespread. Apparently, in New Mexico, the actual experience of the nursing home industry has been that their fears about nanny cams were misplaced. Linda Sechovec is the executive director of the New Mexico Health Care Association, an industry group that represents nursing homes. According to her the cameras haven’t “been a big issue from the provider’s standpoint.”
Nursing home neglect lawyers are unclear whether nanny cams are legal in Florida. There is no direct law allowing them. Furthermore there is a law that makes it a felony to record a person’s voice without his or her permission. However, as I discussed in a recent nanny cam blog entry, at least one Florida appellate court has concluded that it is proper to video a person in a nursing home without their permission as long as their voice is not captured.