Ask the legal expert ... about "granny cams"

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Attorney John Durso, Ungaretti & Harris LLP
Attorney John Durso, Ungaretti & Harris LLP

I know there are state-specific laws, but what can we do generally to keep “granny cams” out of our facility? Seems like the movement to use them is growing.

The use of silent video surveillance in nursing homes, or “granny cams,” is a source of continuing debate. Currently, there are no federal laws either prohibiting or specifically authorizing their use in residents' rooms, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has not issued a specific policy on the topic. It is up to the states and/or each facility to decide how they want to address granny cams.  

Many states have attempted to pass legislation on the issue, but only a handful have succeeded, including, for example, New Mexico and Texas. The laws in each state differ, with some imposing more stringent requirements than others. Thus, it is still very important to review and comply with the state law requirements applicable to your facility. 

As a practical matter, when it comes to a resident's family members, they often resort to using granny cams when they suspect the resident's health or safety is at risk. It is likely, however, that they would prefer to rely on less invasive methods. 

Facilities may better meet these family members' needs by implementing policies and procedures to improve communication and engagement between staff, resident and family.  There are a number of available options, such as enabling residents to video chat with family members, creating shared calendars that family members may view, and investing in software that allows family members to securely text staff, request resident pictures and updates, or even view a resident's activity through digital records that staff members create.