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Cameras in Pennsylvania nursing homes: Ways to protect your loved ones

It is highly common for family members to worry about placing their loved one in a nursing home in Pennsylvania. After all, it is a step that requires someone else to care for that person's every need. Combine that with widespread reports of abuse in elder care facilities, and it is easy to see the cause for concern.

There are several ways to ensure that a nursing home resident is receiving appropriate care. One measure that is growing in popularity is to install a hidden camera. Here, we take a look at the legal ramifications associated with doing so as well as the benefits.

Is it legal?

Nursing home reform as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 requires that patients receive appropriate care. It also addresses residents' privacy. Understandably, installing a camera in someone's room could be viewed as an invasion of privacy, both regarding the resident and the caregivers.

The AARP points out that in some states, such as Illinois, the people who live in the room - which would include the resident and any roommate - must consent to the camera being installed. Further, there may need to be a sign letting people know that the room is under camera surveillance.

Pennsylvania does not have a law in place regarding these cameras. It does, however, prevent wiretapping people without their consent. Therefore, installing a camera that only captures video would be legal, or the resident may have to alert the facility and staff that a camera is being installed.

A beneficial step

Experts agree that installing a camera could help catch behaviors that would otherwise go unnoticed. That includes abuse such as the following:

  • Physical abuse, such as hitting or kicking a resident
  • Emotional abuse, such as threatening or mocking a resident
  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect in nursing homes

Unfortunately, many cases of abuse in nursing homes goes unreported. This could be due to fear or an inability of a resident to communicate.

If you suspect abuse

Whether or not a camera reveals abuse, anyone who suspects that mistreatment is taking place should immediately take action. If speaking with the facility staff is not sufficient, residents or their loved ones should contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which will launch an investigation.

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