Cameras Inside Nursing Homes: Extra Security or Invasion of Privacy?

What’s more important: privacy or security? That’s the question that many families with loved ones in nursing homes are having to ask themselves.

Consider Allentown resident Stuart Sanderson. He has cerebral palsy and recently lost his ability to speak. His family set up a webcam in his nursing home so they can communicate with him visually by lip reading. When the administrators of the nursing home where he resides found out about the camera, they confiscated it.

The powers that be at Sanderson’s nursing home told the family that the camera is invasive to other patients’ privacy. Interestingly enough, the family was also told that workers shouldn’t have to be scrutinized. Talk about a head-scratching revelation?

While it may raise some red flags that they’re worried about their behavior being caught on camera, the nursing home’s objection calls attention to a widely debated issue. On one hand, cameras have been incredibly effective in holding those guilty of elder abuse accountable for their actions; on the other it has privacy advocates concerned for the anonymity of an exceedingly vulnerable group of people.

Sanderson has tapped into this debate without even realizing it. One of the biggest problems is that there is no standardized set of guidelines regarding the use of these devices, allowing for more ambiguity and abuse.

While we should strive for is a culture in which surveillance in nursing homes is no longer warranted. However, we’re learning more and more that this is not the case. Elder abuse is a tragic reality in New Jersey nursing homes. Unfortunately it goes unreported sometimes – and shouldn’t. Talk to the administrators at your loved one’s nursing home or assisted living facility if you think a web cam or other technology can help you communicate with your elderly relative. (And, then, you may be able to benefit from high tech eyes!)

At the Sugarman Law Firm, we have a long and successful history of fighting for the rights of nursing home abuse victims and we will work hard to protect your loved one, too. If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of elder abuse, contact us today for a free consultation.

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