Technological advances have exponentially enhanced our ability to use video surveillance to catch perpetrators of a wide variety of crimes. Cameras are now used to maintain airport security, to deter shoplifters, to photograph reckless drivers, or to capture robbers in the act. Cameras in public spaces have become commonplace in our society. Now, the use of “granny cams” to target and deter those who commit elder abuse appears to be a practice that is both more acceptable and more widespread than ever before.
Our San Diego nursing home abuse lawyers understand that the use of cameras in nursing home facilities may make elderly residents and their families feel more secure. In fact, as we explained in a recent post about police use of a hidden camera to catch a nurse stealing medication from an elderly patient, camera surveillance can be crucial to stopping California elder abuse.
According to reports in The Seattle Times and the Grand Forks Herald, three states—Texas, New Mexico, and Maryland—have passed laws permitting the use of cameras in nursing homes. These laws allow residents and family members to have “granny cams” installed in nursing facilities at their own expense. Other states have passed laws that help address the issue as well, even if they stop short of allowing private citizens to have cameras installed in nursing homes. For example, in Virginia, the installation of cameras in nursing facilities is part of the state’s licensing process. Minnesota has a similar law that applies to group adult foster care facilities, and may expand the law to cover other forms of care. New York’s attorney general has determined that hidden cameras are allowable for the purposes of elder abuse prosecutions.
Such laws raise many privacy issues, however, as well as issues regarding elders’ personal dignity. Consent usually must be obtained from the resident, family, or any roommates before cameras can be installed.
“Granny cam” legislation permits negligent nursing homes to be caught on tape and held accountable. Yet tension clearly exists over the use of “granny cams,” even among elder abuse advocates. One advocate, Violette King, who founded a nonprofit group called Nursing Home Monitors after her father was abused while in a facility, believes that cameras are “the only solution” for family members who cannot be present to ensure their loved one’s safety around the clock. Other elder advocates believe there are better, more effective means by which to protect our loved ones. One such advocate is Harbir Kaur, an abuse-prevention expert with a Minnesota group called ElderCare Rights, who thinks that “training, education and empowering consumers through strong resident and family councils” are better tools, according to The Seattle Times.
Our California elder abuse attorneys at the Walton Firm know that video surveillance is frequently used in criminal prosecutions to combat elder abuse. Even if the state doesn’t pursue criminal charges, you may still be able to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit. If a loved one has been abused or neglected in a California nursing facility or if you are concerned that a loved one is at risk of abuse, please seek out a qualified legal professional to learn about the options available to you.
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