Should Ohio nursing homes have cameras?

On the surface, placing cameras in nursing homes may seem like a good solution for preventing elder abuse. However, residents have privacy concerns.

In Ohio, the extent of nursing home electronic surveillance tends to take the form of cameras overlooking parking lots and other outdoor areas . However, the issue of whether nursing homes should have or allow cameras inside patient rooms is a hot topic being debated worldwide.

On the one hand, they may prevent or pinpoint elder abuse, whether it is sexual, physical or emotional or via another form such as neglect. On the other hand, quite a few nursing home residents do have reasonable privacy concerns. The following sections may clarify a few thinking points.

Who are the cameras for?

Ostensibly, any cameras would be for the nursing home residents-to provide them with peace of mind, for example. That is not really the case, though. In a UK survey, it was overwhelmingly the relatives of people in nursing homes who wanted the cameras. To the tune of 87 percent, relatives believe that having the cameras would help them know that their loved ones are safe. Meanwhile, only 47 percent of the residents in the survey said they would like cameras. Even the nursing home staffers, at 63 percent, supported the idea more than residents did.

Residents worry about how the information from the cameras could later be used and about their privacy. The idea of someone being able to see them have sex, change clothes or use the bathroom is distressing. There are worries about whether something will fall into the wrong hands.

Permission and knowledge

Another consideration has to do with who would know about the cameras. For instance, would they be installed in all patients' rooms as a matter of course? Would they be installed only after a patient or his/her representative requests it? What if the patient has a roommate who does not want the camera in there? Five states (Ohio is not one) allow the use of cameras but only if residents request it.

What are the alternatives?

Cameras can be a drastic move. That is why it is important to look at alternatives that could also be effective. Options include:

· More thorough background checks on workers.

· More enforcement of boundaries and rules (for example, not allowing cash more than X amount to be kept in private rooms).

· Better patient, family and staffer education on elder abuse and recognizing it.

· Heightened measures such as installing bed alarms.

· Intervention by authorities and attorneys.

Dealing with abuse is tough and scary. When people suspect or know that someone they love is being abused in an Ohio nursing home, getting in touch with an attorney can help them decide what to do next.