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Can I install a camera in my loved one's nursing home room?

By the time you make a decision about a nursing home for a loved one, you've likely looked at various places before picking one. Each time that you hear a story in the media about abuse and neglect at one of these facilities though, you may find it difficult to not allow scary thoughts to flood your mind. You may wonder if you should install a hidden camera in your loved one's room to keep a close eye on them when you're not there.

While the idea of installing a hidden camera and then watching the footage that it captures on your smartphone or home computer may seem reassuring, it's illegal to do it in many states. In fact, as of 2017, only five states including Oklahoma, New Mexico, Washington, Illinois and Texas had laws on the books that explicitly allowed cameras to be installed in a residents' room with their consent.

Other states, including Arizona, have laws in place that address issues involving consent, but not in the context of whether its legal to place them in a nursing home resident's room. This is a gray area of the law that you'll want to consult an attorney about.

Many states have been slow to allow family members to secretly film what goes on in their loved one's room at a nursing facility because federal law requires all residents to be treated with respect, dignity and privacy. Filming them may deprive them of their right to privacy.

The use of cameras in their rooms could allow people to overhear conversations about their health conditions that are private. Additionally, the person viewing that footage may witness a patient being disrobed, bathed, using the bathroom and in other private situations.

Some elder care advocates have suggested that cameras violate a resident's right to privacy too much. Proponents of such legislation have argued that these cameras are key to stopping workers from abusing, neglecting or otherwise poorly caring for residents.

Family members of suspected victims of nursing home abuse and neglect should discuss the warning signs that they've noticed with an attorney before potentially violating the law by installing surveillance cameras in their loved one's room. If it seems like a relative is indeed being ill-treated or abused in a nursing home, then an attorney can advise you of how to proceed.

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