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The ethics of installing cameras in senior communities

New Mexico is one of several states that require senior living facilities to install cameras if residents request it. A dozen more states are considering whether or not they should pass similar laws. One state, New Jersey, has a program that loans video monitoring equipment to residents and their family members. While there is controversy surrounding the use of cameras in these settings, there is currently no federal law banning it.

The number one reason why residents, as well as their families, would want cameras installed is to prevent abuse. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have become notorious for elder abuse, but this issue is not unknown in private homes. Cameras can monitor staff and even be used as a training tool.

Despite differences in state laws, all agree on certain guidelines. First, no one can install cameras without consent. To proceed without consent is to violate the HIPAA Privacy Rule and even current statutes on wiretapping and electronic surveillance. Second, the family must cover all expenses and must provide signs and notices. In those states without video monitoring laws, a nursing home may have its own stipulations in its contract. These must be respected. The desire to install cameras stems from lack of trust and communication. Nursing homes would do well, then, to strive for an open-door policy.

When families discover that their loved one was the victim of nursing home abuse, they may wonder who is responsible. If the facility is to blame, then families may be able to file a claim and seek compensation. This is where having legal representation may be beneficial. A lawyer may have third parties investigate the case and gather evidence. Medical experts may come in to determine the extent of the victim's injuries. The lawyer may then handle settlement negotiations.

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