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Nanny Cams in Nursing Homes - Protection or Invasion of Privacy?

Imagine that your mother is in a long-term care facility. On your weekend visits, she's told you that the nurses and aides there are taking things from her, pinching her and refusing to change her diapers when she soils them.


You want to believe your mother, but you've been told that her nursing home is one of the best in the state. You also know that your mother has mild dementia and that when you gently raise the issue with others, the nursing supervisor seems to get really offended.

What can you do?

Well, in some states, you can record everything that happens in your mother's room.

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In Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas, you can legally put a nanny cam or "granny cam" - a motion-activated video camera - in your mother's nursing-home room. Several other states have been considering following suit. Even state attorneys general in Ohio and New York have made surreptitious video recordings to collect evidence of abuse and neglect.

That's good, right? If your mom is being mistreated, this way you might know for sure.

But not so fast, some say. What about the privacy of roommates, caretakers or visitors? And for that matter, what about your mom's privacy? She's an adult, after all, and certain aspects of patient care may expose her nude body or intimate activities like toileting or bathing. And if she has dementia, she may not be able to consent to the surveillance, even if you think it's in her best interest.

Some facilities allow families to place hidden cameras in the room as long as there's a sign to that effect on the resident's door.

What do you think? Should you be able to use hidden cameras to keep a watchful eye in a loved one's room, all the better to protect her? Or do the rights of others trump yours?

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Photo: msk.nina/iStockphoto


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