Legal Issues Surrounding the Use of Granny Cams in Nursing Homes

nursing home abuseIf you or a loved one is in a nursing home or long-term care facility, you may be concerned about potential abuse. Whether emotional, physical, or even sexual, nursing home abuse and neglect is all too common.

The issue is complicated by the fact that some elderly people, especially those with dementia or other mental disorders, may tell their loved ones they are being abused because they don’t like the facility or want to come home. Others may be afraid to report abusive behavior, for fear of repercussions from the perpetrators on staff.

Family members and friends want to know for sure whether their loved ones in nursing homes are being neglected or abused. Many want to be able to monitor the interactions between patients and staff in nursing homes to protect their loved ones from abuse, and ensure a high quality of care.

Why Install a Granny Cam?

If your loved one is in a nursing home or long-term care facility, you may be tempted to videotape or record the room to monitor his or her interactions with nurses and staff. If your loved one has reported being abused or neglected, a hidden camera — often dubbed a “granny cam” — may provide evidence to justify those claims. Granny cams are installed where they aren’t visible, and nursing home staff do not know the cameras are there.

Privacy and Legality Could Be Compromised by Granny Cams

There is current no Federal law on granny cams specifically.

Several states do have granny cam laws, including Texas, Washington, and Maryland. Fifteen more have drawn up legislation, including Louisiana, but the legislation has not yet been passed into law.

Louisiana residents should know that most of the state laws that do exist do not allow secret devices or monitoring unknown to staff and other residents. Roommates must consent, and if they do not, the devices cannot be installed.

In addition, signs and notices must be prominently displayed throughout the facility.

Under the U.S. Federal Wiretap Act, a minimum of one participant involved in the taping of private wire, electronic, or oral communications must consent to the activity. Because of this, installing and using a granny cam without consent would be against Federal law, and the installer of any secret camera could be prosecuted.

Even if you obtain the consent of your loved one to install a hidden camera in his or her room, the legality of doing so may still be problematic. If, for instance, the patient suffers from dementia, mental illness, or certain cognitive disorders, he or she may not be able to give informed consent legally.

Many nursing home residents share rooms or common areas. Installing a granny cam could violate the roommate’s privacy.

Alternatives to Granny Cams

If you are concerned about physical abuse in a nursing home or care facility, first look for signs, such as bruises, scratches, or unexplained accidents.

Watch the social interactions between staff and patients to see if the staff is respectful, courteous, and friendly.

If your loved one seems anxious, frightened, withdrawn, or timid, it could be a sign of emotional or sexual abuse, especially if it’s a marked change from their customary behavior. Try to have a talk with your loved one privately about whether the nursing home is a safe space.

If there is cognitive debility, a counselor may help.

Speak With a Baton Rouge Nursing Home Abuse Attorney If You Have Concerns About Your Loved One’s Safety

If you suspect a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse, we can help. Nursing homes that employ abusive staff may be liable. We will investigate the circumstances of your case, determine who is responsible, and fight to see that justice is done.

For your convenience, the Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has two Louisiana offices, one in Baton Rouge and one in Lafayette. Call Louisiana nursing home abuse attorney Bart Bernard today for a free consultation. We charge no fees unless we win money for you!

Additional “Granny Cam Law” Resources:

  1. Aging Options. “More States Consider ‘Granny Cam’ Laws for Resident Protection.” March 31, 2016.
  2. Cassens Weiss, Debra. “’Granny Cam’ Law Aimed at Curbing Nursing-Home Abuse Takes Effect in Oklahoma.” ABA Journal. November 20, 2013.



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