Survey: Cameras cause providers privacy, litigation concerns

Privacy violations and litigation risks are among the top worries of providers considering installing cameras in resident rooms, new survey results show.

Preliminary results of the provider survey, conducted by Brown University researchers, found skilled nursing and assisted living providers are concerned that placing cameras in rooms will violate the privacy of residents, their roommates, facility staff and visitors. Many providers also stated concerns that the cameras could open them up to potential litigation if activity caught on film were misinterpreted.

The survey also captured less common camera concerns, including undermining resident and staff trust, demoralizing staff, and fear over ensuring that the video feed is secure.

Despite worries about installing cameras, many survey respondents said filming what goes on in residents' rooms could help investigate complaints, and give family members peace of mind. Many also noted that facilities can use footage to help monitor staff, determine the cause of a fall or reveal to families how a resident behaves.

One-fourth of the 228 providers who have responded to the Brown survey so far said they allow families to place cameras in resident rooms, while 16% said they know of at least one family that installed a camera. Just half of the facilities that allow cameras said they require signs in rooms where cameras are in use.

“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 guest column for McKnight's Senior Living  “Clearly, this issue carries a full range of potential positive and negative implications for multiple parties.”

Fewer skilled nursing providers said that they allow cameras, with just 7% of skilled facilities reporting current use, compared to 40% of assisted living facilities. Sixteen percent of combination skilled and assisted living facilities reported current camera use.

The majority of survey respondents — 90% — said their facility has never placed a camera in a resident room.

The anonymous survey is still open for responses.