Nursing homes should focus on improving communications to prevent in-room cameras, survey suggests

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Majd Alwan, Ph.D.
Majd Alwan, Ph.D.

Most people would consider video cameras to monitor a loved one's nursing home care but would prefer other methods, according to recently released survey results.

Out of nearly 2,000 family members surveyed, 63% said they would be likely to request an in-room camera. Of that group, 18% said they would be “very likely” to do so.

However, 34% of respondents said they are “not likely” to request them. And cameras were by far the least favorite technology for keeping tabs on a resident's well-being. Video chatting, online activity logs, texting staff and emailing all were listed as preferable.

These other technologies facilitate more interactive communication with staff than cameras, and this is highly valued by residents' family members, the survey found. “Insufficient updates” from staff nearly tied “suspected abuse” as the top reason for wanting a room camera.

The findings reinforce that cameras should not be overused, said Majd Alwan, Ph.D., senior vice president of technology at LeadingAge.

“The better approach is improved engagement between family and staff on one hand, and the resident [and] family on the other,” Alwan told Software Advice, the software selection firm that conducted the survey. “An improved communications dynamic strengthens those relationships and eliminates perceptions [of low-quality care], especially unsubstantiated perceptions.”

With states debating how to regulate in-room cameras, long-term care stakeholders are advocating for a balanced approach that respects the privacy of residents and caregivers. Nursing home staff morale can take a hit if they feel constantly observed, noted Greg Crist, senior vice president of public affairs at the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.

“We're not opposed to [surveillance] cameras, but what we're trying to do is help policymakers and families understand how to balance privacy while delivering peace of mind,” Crist told Software Advice.

Click here to access the complete findings, released Nov. 19.