Cameras in nursing homes: What’s legal and what’s not

Nursing home abuse is far too common, and prevention is the best defense. In an effort to protect the safety of residents, nursing homes and loved ones may consider installing cameras in residents’ rooms. But is this legal?

The answer largely depends on where you live. Illinois, like many other states, has laws that regulate the use of cameras in nursing homes. In this guide, we’ll discuss the legalities of using cameras in Illinois nursing homes so everyone involved can make informed decisions.

If you need further help navigating suspected nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the skilled nursing home abuse attorneys with Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates today.

cameras in nursing homes legal

Illinois law regarding cameras in nursing homes

In Illinois, cameras are permitted in the rooms of nursing home residents under the 2016 Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Facilities Act, also known as HB 2462. Certain criteria must be met in order for the use of a camera to be legal:

  1. The camera must be visible and conspicuous.
  2. Any room containing a camera must be marked with a sign outside the door stating that it’s being electronically monitored.
  3. If the resident or a loved one made the decision to install a camera, they must notify the facility of their intention.
  4. Third parties, such as nursing home staff and family members, aren’t allowed to install a camera in a resident’s room without the resident’s consent. For nursing home residents who lack the mental capacity to consent, their legal guardian must authorize the installation of the camera.
  5. If the resident shares the room with someone else, both parties must agree to the installation of the camera. If the roommate objects to the camera, the facility must move them to another room.

Examples of illegal camera use in Illinois nursing homes

If any of the above criteria are violated, the use of a camera in a nursing home is considered illegal.

In cases where a resident lacks the mental capacity for consent, simply asking them for permission to install the camera isn’t sufficient consent as they might not be able to fully understand the repercussions of having a camera in their room. This is true whether or not the resident has a legal guardian.

The same goes for installing a hidden camera or disguising the camera in any way — even if the facility or family member has consent from the resident. For instance, installing a miniature camera that can’t be easily spotted would be considered illegal, even if it’s out in the open. Using a camera that’s designed to look like another object, such as a clock or smoke detector, is also illegal.

It’s also important to keep in mind that HB 2462 only applies to cameras in the private rooms of nursing home residents. Facilities may install cameras in common areas with fewer restrictions.

Ethical considerations to keep in mind

Aside from the legal implications of camera use in nursing homes, there are also ethical considerations for facilities and loved ones to take into account when deciding whether or not to install a camera.

Let’s start with the privacy issue. While HB 2462 requires the resident’s consent, it also allows a third party — their legal guardian — to authorize the camera’s use on their behalf if they’re unable to give consent. In this case, the resident may not have a say in whether or not their room is monitored. This raises an ethical concern because it can be argued that the resident’s autonomy and privacy are being violated.

Another ethical consideration is the role of family members in monitoring their loved ones. Family members may feel an obligation to protect their loved ones by monitoring the care they’re receiving, but this can lead to a feeling of mistrust — both for the resident and the staff.

The potential impact on resident-staff relationships must also be considered. Having cameras in the room might make staff members feel as if they’re being watched, which could lead to feelings of anxiety and diminish the quality of care they provide.

Best practices for installing and using cameras in nursing homes

The decision to install a camera in a nursing home room should be made after carefully weighing the potential benefits and risks. Cameras can be a helpful tool for promoting staff accountability, preventing neglect and abuse, and proving abuse if it does happen, but they should always be used with caution and respect.

If a camera is installed in a resident’s room, the guidelines outlined in HB 2462 must be followed. If the resident is unable to consent to the camera, try to educate them on the implications of the camera’s use before allowing anyone to make a decision on their behalf. When using the camera, be sure to keep the resident’s privacy in mind and only monitor activities that are necessary for their well-being.

If you suspect nursing home abuse, we can help

If you suspect that neglect or abuse is actively occurring, it’s best to speak with a Chicago nursing home abuse attorney before taking any further action. An attorney can help you determine whether or not a camera is the best course of action and advise you on your next steps.

Call Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates at (800) 985-1819 to get started.