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Can I put a camera in my parent's nursing home room?

Having a parent in the care of a nursing home facility can be reassuring when he or she has medical needs that make living at home dangerous or impossible. However, adult children can be also understandably nervous about the treatment he or she is (or is not) receiving.

To address this, some people consider putting cameras in their loved one's room so they can keep an eye on the person. However, this is a thorny legal issue for multiple reasons.

Cameras and privacy

Recording someone can be a violation of his or her privacy. Even if your parent knows about the camera, other residents and staff members who don't know about it could claim that the recordings violate their right to privacy. There can also be issues when cameras record audio as well as visual.

Determine whether a facility has rules regarding recordings in patient rooms. You must also consult state laws. Most states, including Colorado, do not have specific laws addressing cameras in nursing home patient rooms, though there are state and federal laws regarding related issues, such as privacy.

Cameras and consent

Consent is another issue that complicates nursing home surveillance. If your loved one has dementia or other conditions, he or she may not be capable of legally consenting to having a camera in the room. 

If your loved one shares a room with someone, the roommate also may not consent (or be capable of consenting) to surveillance. Staff members also may not consent.

Some family members choose to put a camera in the room and notify all parties that they are being recorded in an effort to avoid violations of privacy. Often, this is by including a sign in a conspicuous place.

Alternatives to consider

If you cannot or do not want to put a camera in a parent's nursing home room, there are still ways to assess his or her care. 

Talk to your loved one. Listen carefully. Look for signs of fear. Pay attention to any bruising, infections or other conditions that could signal abuse or neglect. 

You can also talk to other people in the facility. Roommates, friends, nurses and others could have insights into your loved one's care that you may not know about. 

Researching a facility and the staff members is also critical. If there are questionable policies, untrained workers or inadequate administrative practices, it may be wise to remove your parent and relocate him or her.

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