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Can you put a ‘granny cam’ in someone’s nursing home room?

NewsNursing Home Neglect   May 2, 2017

Nursing home abuse preys on some of the most helpless members of society: the elderly. Many elderly people who are trapped in abusive nursing homes are unable to speak for themselves — and if they do speak up, they may be dismissed because of problems such as dementia. Abusers know this, and they take full advantage of the situation.

So, what can you do if you suspect — but can’t prove — that your elderly relative is being abused by the very people who are being paid to care for him or her?

One answer is the so-called “granny cam.”

Inexpensive surveillance technology has improved almost yearly, making it possible to set up virtually invisible cameras and recording devices that can catch an abuser in the act — or reassure you that no abuse is actually taking place.

Ohio is a “one party consent” state when it comes to electronic surveillance and recording — which means that only one person on the end of the recording device has to know about and consent to the action. However, there are still some issues about the use of granny cams in Ohio.

A few states have laws that specifically address how you can go about putting a hidden camera in a nursing home resident’s room — Ohio does not. That’s problematic, because it may be a violation of your elderly loved one’s privacy rights on both a federal and state level.

Ohio has a patient’s bill of rights that gives them the right to privacy during medical treatment. Federal law also gives patients the same right to privacy and ensures that they have a right to their own self-determination — which essentially means they need to consent to the granny cam unless they have a legal guardian who can give consent for them. It may also violate the law to install one on private property without the nursing home’s consent.

This lack of clarity in the law hasn’t stopped the use of granny cams in the state, however. In a now-notorious case, the Ohio attorney general shut down a nursing home after authorities installed granny cams in several residents’ rooms due to ongoing complaints of neglect and abuse.

If you suspect your elderly relative is being abused in a nursing home, an attorney can advise you on how to proceed while staying within the limits of the law.

Source: Digital Media Law, “Ohio Wiretapping Law,” accessed April 27, 2017