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Nursing Home Cameras: Ensuring the Safety of Loved Ones

Advocates say recording devices can help prevent abuse at nursing homes. Credit: Alvimann/Morguefile
Advocates say recording devices can help prevent abuse at nursing homes. Credit: Alvimann/Morguefile
October 5, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Family and friends of nursing home residents in Illinois soon will be able to have additional peace of mind in knowing that their loved ones are receiving adequate care.

A new state law takes effect January 1 that allows residents at nursing homes to install surveillance cameras.

Gerardo Cardenas, communications manager with AARP Illinois, says the Illinois Department of Public Health receives about 19,000 complaints of abuse and neglect each year from people residing in long-term care facilities.

"It was critical to have something in place that allows nursing home residents to feel that they're safe in their room," says Cardenas. "That they're being monitored and that abuses and neglect will be recorded and reported."

AARP is working to educate residents about the law's provisions. Cardenas says before deciding to install a camera, consent is required from the resident and his or her roommate and a sign must be posted outside the room to alert staff, residents and visitors of the camera.

He adds it is the responsibility of the patient or the family to pay for the costs of the device, and the facility is not required to provide internet service for streaming video. When the law begins at the start of 2016, the Department of Public Health has an additional 60 days to provide a consent form for residents.

The department also will publish guidelines for the cameras, but Cardenas suggests interested families go ahead and begin researching their options.

"They need to look for equipment that fits their budget but also fits the provisions," says Cardenas. "It must be visible; it must be installed in a certain position in the room. Fortunately there are many, many options out there that fit different kinds of budgets because the costs will fall upon them. "

The law also states that the facility cannot retaliate or discriminate against a resident with a camera, and employees are forbidden to tamper with an installed device without a resident's permission. Cardenas says any violations are subject to a misdemeanor or felony charge depending on the circumstances.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL