Camera policies held up by privacy, litigation concerns

Providers acknowledge both potentially negative and positive implications of allowing cameras resident rooms.
Providers acknowledge both potentially negative and positive implications of allowing cameras resident rooms.

In the battle of pros and cons for placing cameras in resident rooms, the potential negative legal and privacy implications are winning out with most providers, new research shows.

Skilled nursing and assisted living providers are most concerned that operating cameras in rooms will violate the privacy of residents, their roommates, facility staff and visitors, according to preliminary results of an ongoing, voluntary survey conducted by Brown University researchers.

“This survey reveals that a large minority of nursing center and assisted living respondents are aware of cameras in use in resident rooms. Most believe that privacy is at stake, and many envision potential positive effects,” wrote lead researcher Clara Berridge, Ph.D., M.S.W., in a column for McKnight's Senior Living  

Many survey respondents expressed reservations about legal implications if camera footage were misinterpreted. 

Undermining resident and staff trust, demoralizing staff, and fear over ensuring that the video feed is secure were less common concerns.

Providers said some of the potential positives of cameras include: help investigating complaints and peace of mind for family members.

Respondents also said the cameras could be helpful in determining the cause of falls, gauging resident behavior and monitoring staff performance.

About one-fourth of the 228 respondents said they allow families to place cameras in their loved ones' room, with 1 in 6 saying at least one family installed a camera.

Fewer skilled nursing providers said that they allow cameras, with just 7% of skilled facilities reporting allowing cameras, compared to 40% of assisted living facilities.