Security Cameras In Nursing Homes: Useful Or Wasteful?
By Nahshon Roberts
To install or not to install?
This question is at the forefront of debates concerning the management of nursing homes. At present, the issue of whether or not to put security cameras in nursing homes and where these should be placed is extremely controversial and is far from resolved.
Merits of Installing Security Cameras in Nursing Homes
The most important argument in favor of security cameras is their deterrent value against abuse and substandard care. These security cameras have been given the moniker “granny cams” and are said to be a positive step in reducing the potential for elderly abuse. Experts believe that granny cameras could singlehandedly restore public confidence in nursing homes because they give family members instant access to recently stored footage. They can, thus, closely monitor the well-being of their parents or grandparents.
Security cameras retail for at least $630 and may go up as high as $1,590. On top of this, there is a $20 monthly fee for accessing the server and another $10 monthly to upload images via a data-only line.
Drawbacks of Installing Security Cameras in Nursing Homes
Not surprisingly, the strongest opposition to the use of granny cams comes from the industry itself. Nursing-home operators and staff consider video surveillance a needless invasion of privacy. They fear that security cameras would make it so much harder to retain good staff and attract new ones. Moreover, they believe that use of security cameras will compromise a patient’s dignity, particularly when bathroom and bathing activities are filmed and then reviewed by security. Another argument used is the additional expense. After all, a nursing home would need not just one, but several, security cameras distributed in strategic places throughout the nursing home.
The Debate Continues
While not trifling, however, the costs of purchasing the equipment and the installation expense are comparable to the cost of updating housekeeping, food, or recreation services. This means that the purchase and installation of security cameras should be treated as necessary an overhead cost as staff salaries, for example.
Additionally, experts believe that security cameras help nursing home operators minimize their legal responsibility should an employee or a nursing home resident be found guilty of abusive behavior. By having digitally captured evidence on hand, nursing home owners can thereby reduce unnecessary and groundless litigation.
At present, a dozen state legislatures are actively considering passing the granny-cam legislation. Existing laws mandate that an operator must inform the staff ahead of time of the presence of cameras and their respective placements. Otherwise, video surveillance may be considered illegal. There are no law expressly prohibit the use of security cameras. What prevents their wide use, however, are practical barriers in the form of pricing and vehement opposition from the nursing-home industry.
So, to install or not to install security cameras?
Nursing-home operators vehemently answer “no” while experts openly advocate their mandatory use. If you are a nursing-home owner, the added institutional cost would mostly likely make you cringe. If you are one of the many in search of a nursing home for a loved one, your answer to this question should dictate your choice of nursing homes. However, do not make it your only consideration. Check the facility’s history of deficiencies and citations from formal regulatory inspections.
It will be very difficult for this controversy to be resolved speedily because it is an issue that hits too close to home. It simply is not possible to put a price on safety, or negotiate dignity.
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