Illinois could soon become the fifth state to allow video cameras and audio recording devices in nursing homes if Gov. Bruce Rauner signs legislation easily approved by the General Assembly and backed by the state’s attorney general.
The legislation, HB 2462, would require resident and roommate consent and make nursing home residents or their families responsible for the purchase and maintenance of video devices. A physician would need to determine if a resident is capable of consent.
“Placing a loved one in a nursing facility is a difficult decision that many families will face,” Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in a statement to Life Matters Media. “This measure provides an extra layer of security for nursing home residents, while giving their families peace of mind knowing that their loved ones are receiving safe, quality care.”
The initiative stems from complaints that Madigan has received from nursing home residents and families concerned about care and security.
No one from Gov. Rauner’s office responded to requests for comment.
The legislation is concerning to many, and some privacy and nursing advocates caution that it would unfairly burden caregivers and shame incapacitated and dying patients.
“It’s one thing to have cameras in your own home, if you got a babysitter for your child or some caregiver, but a nursing home is a whole different ball game,” said Dr. June McKoy, associate professor of geriatrics and internal medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “A lot of nursing homes don’t have private rooms, and proponents claim they can have a ‘granny cam’ targeted at those who give consent. But if I’m in a room with someone else, I wouldn’t want a camera. Period.”
McCoy has never heard of a patient asking for a camera, and she said those suffering from dementia or immobility could be recorded during private moments like baths or linen changes.
“You have caregivers going in and cleaning them, bathing them, doing intimate things to them, and that will all play out on camera, which will affect how caregivers and nursing assistants provide care,” McCoy added. “They do a lot of extra work for patients that should not be on camera.”
Mike Duffy, administrator of Good Samaritan Home, said that allowing recording devices is understandable, but he is concerned about multi-occupant rooms and patient freedom. He does not support the use of cameras in his nursing home.
“Can a resident give proper consent for themselves to be videotaped? It would probably often be a family member that is putting a camera in,” Duffy told the Quincy Harold-Whig.
A roommate may consent to authorized electronic monitoring with any condition of his or her choosing, including that a device be turned off or that recording be blocked at any time.
Illinois has more than 1,100 nursing home facilities with nearly 76,000 residents. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2030, almost one quarter of Illinois’ population will be 60 and older. In 2013, the Illinois Department of Public Health found 106 valid allegations of abuse, neglect or misappropriation of property against residents by facility staff.
If the bill is enacted, Illinois would become the fifth state (joining New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington) to explicitly allow the installation of electronic monitoring devices. The recordings could be used in court for allegations of abuse.
The law would also require the Department of Public Health to distribute by lottery up to $50,000 yearly to residents unable to pay for their own devices.