Nursing homes in San Diego are receiving attention for recently installing cameras in patient bedrooms. While some may consider this a breach of privacy, the goal of this controversial initiative is to protect elderly patients from instances of elder abuse that happen all too often but tragically go unnoticed.
In most states there are laws to guard against suspected abuse or neglect. And still, in the United States alone, more than 500,000 reports of abuse against elderly Americans are logged each year, with millions more going unreported. Elder abuse can occur in private homes, institutional settings and other long term care facilities. Unfortunately, signs of abuse and neglect are easy to miss.
Signs of elderly abuse include:
- Frequent tension between the caregiver and the elderly person
- Changes in behavior or personality such as withdrawal from normal activities
- Unexplained injuries, untreated bedsores, unkempt appearance, unusual weight loss, poor hygiene
- Sudden change in finances or accounts, wills that have been altered, trusts that have been changed
Elderly abuse can take on many forms, including some that aren’t particularly apparent. Many professionals do not have the training to detect wrong doings and the elderly themselves may be reluctant to report abusive incidents because they fear retaliation. Despite these sad facts, much needs to be considered before installing cameras in nursing homes, particularly privacy issues.
Is it Ethical to Install Cameras in Private Rooms?
Video cameras are a way of life these days and are being used to help prove misdoings and provide accountability. Now nursing homes and treatment facilities are jumping on board with this trend. California law states that cameras can be used to monitor residents (or any person) in facility common areas … but not yet in private rooms. IMPORTANT: Audio recording of another person without their knowledge is illegal. While video recording is permitted in common areas of elder care facilities, California law precludes the use of audio recording without the knowledge and/or consent of any person who may be recorded.
The issue raises privacy concerns and the Department of Social Services has developed proposed guidelines to have cameras in private rooms under very specific conditions. Those guidelines are currently being reviewed and approval is expected in Spring 2015. Opting to have a camera in an elderly person’s room may give the families the peace of mind they need to know that their loved ones are receiving appropriate care.
What do you think? Should cameras be placed in elderly patients’ rooms to reduce incidents of elderly abuse or are they a breach of privacy? Let us know by leaving a comment below or joining the discussion on Facebook.