New Mexico residents who rely on nursing homes to care for elderly loved ones may be interested to learn that, in some states, the majority of elder abuse allegations are not investigated. For example, in 2016, 97 percent of abuse allegations made in state-licensed senior facilities in Minnesota were not ever investigated. Hidden cameras may help address the problem; however, there are privacy and compliance concerns that often go along with this type of technology.

Part of the problem is that governmental agencies simply do not have the resources to investigate and respond to all of the elder abuse allegations, especially as the number of residents in state-run facilities continues to increase. Family members of these residents may be able to use hidden cameras to help protect their loved ones. Some states have even begun to use these technologies to address the elder abuse problem. The devices can record video and, in some cases, audio.

Before a video camera is placed in a nursing home, however, there are some issues that will need to be considered. For example, the validity of any recording will have to be confirmed. Adding cameras may have an effect on employee retention and recruiting. Finally, it will have to be determined what rights and obligations it has in terms of security and preservation of the footage.

The state of New Mexico passed the Patient Care Monitoring Act, or the “granny cam” bill, in 2004. By law, residents or their loved ones have the right to install video cameras and audio recorders in the nursing home at their own expense. If a family records video or audio showing that nursing home abuse has occurred, an attorney may file a lawsuit against the employees who were involved in the abuse and the nursing home that allowed the abuse to occur.