Whether in a long-term care community or their own home, hiring caregivers to take care of your senior loved one is a monumental decision requiring great trust and vulnerability. Many people experience feelings of uncertainty as to whether caregivers are performing their job with the utmost care and consideration for the seniors they are entrusted to support.
For one Louisiana resident, Lucie Titus, finding her mother – an Alzheimer’s resident who lived in a state-run nursing home – with an unexplained black eye and severe back pain, was her worst fear come true. Her mother, nor the facility caregivers could explain the injuries caused to her mother and with no way of monitoring her daily activities or the care she received, Titus was left feeling baffled and compelled to act.
It was after this experience that Titus “urged lawmakers in her state to pass legislation allowing families to mount video cameras in their loved ones’ nursing home rooms and monitor them from afar.”
Bill HB281 and Video Monitors in Nursing Homes
Legislators agreed with Titus that video monitoring may enhance patient care and empower families. Bill HB281 was proposed by Louisiana House Representative Kirk Talbot and as of May 15 of this year, it was passed to “third reading and final passage.”
Titus states that video monitoring “would answer so many questions for the residents, the staff, the doctors who are literally guessing about what happened… it would render better medical care for people like my mother who could not speak for herself.” The installation of cameras into residents’ rooms would be voluntary and the cost of the equipment, installation and ongoing maintenance would fall on the resident and their family.
Residents and their roommates would also need to provide their consent to have the equipment installed and nursing facilities would be prohibited to access recordings without written consent.
The goal is to support patient care, rather than provide a spying tool for families.
The Benefits of Video Monitors in Nursing Homes
There are many arguments in favor of video monitoring, including:
- A deeper level of accountability to nursing facilities for the safety and well-being of residents
- Allowing families to be more engaged and interactive, even for loved ones who live at a distance
- Dettering abuse, neglect, sexual exploitation and theft
- Ensuring nursing home residents are safe and receiving quality care and treatment
- Greater peace of mind to family members of residents
- It is the way of the future – we already permit video monitoring at daycare centers; why not oversee the care of our senior loved ones the way we do for our children?
- Protecting professional caregivers who are providing care – if an incident or injury does occur, video footage can eliminate suspicion against a staff member
However, not everyone agrees that the benefits of installing video monitors in residents’ rooms outweigh the risks.
The Potential Risks of Video Monitors in Nursing Homes
During the initial reading on Bill HB281, representatives from a number of nursing facilities were vocal about their concerns, specifically regarding “patient privacy and the ease of hackers to access the web feeds.” Privacy is – and should be – of the utmost importance for anyone, especially seniors living in a long-term care community.
According to AgingCare.com, there are other negative outcomes of video monitoring to consider, including:
- Causing problems within the family unit – family members watching video footage in place of physical involvement is problematic
- Depriving residents of dignity and privacy – accepting help with bathing or incontinence care is difficult enough without the process being recorded on camera and reviewed
- Emphasizing that caregivers prioritize rules and efficiency rather than treating each resident as an individual with unique needs
- Potential negative impacts on patient care – caregivers may be so focused on performing their job ‘by the book’ that it may deter them from “forming friendships with clients and getting creative with how they provide care”
- Undermining the trust a family places in professional caregivers and long-term care facilities
- Violating the caregivers’ right to not be monitored and have their daily duties scrutinized
How do you feel about allowing video camera monitors in nursing homes to monitor the daily activities of caregivers and residents? We’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.