Concerns surface over whether or not video cameras should be used in nursing homes to monitor staff's behavior towards residents as proposed by Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan. Cameras could help deter nursing home abuse and neglect and hold those responsible when abuse or neglect occurs. The Attorney General's office is drafting a bill which would allow video cameras and audio recording devices in nursing homes as long as residents consent and they or their family can cover the costs.
Although agreeing that cameras can be helpful in cases where the resident consents, many elder care advocates are concerned about the privacy of seniors in cases where consent is difficult to determine. Many residents of long term care facilities are mentally impaired, such as those residents whose mental capacity has been affected by a stroke, claims a representative of suburban Cook County for the Legal Assistance Foundation, a senior advocacy organization. No one knows if those residents who require help in getting dressed or changing a diaper would want to be recorded.
However, Madigan and supporters of the proposal say that cameras are appearing everywhere these days, so why not allow them in nursing homes. The recordings from the cameras or audio devices would be allowed in court and anyone who tried to tamper with or obstruct the devices would be penalized under the proposal. It is no surprise that abuse and neglect in nursing homes is a growing concern. According to the attorney general's office, the Illinois Department of Public Health receives 19,000 calls per year alleging abuse or neglect and responds to about 5,000.