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The Need for Video

Published on February 17th, 2020

The Michigan Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee is considering a bill intended to help prevent elder abuse in nursing homes.  It makes no sense to allow webcams at child and animal day care centers, but not give vulnerable residents of nursing homes the same option.  The bill would require nursing homes to allow a resident or their representative to use an electronic monitoring device to film the resident in their room. The bill would require the written consent of roommates and notice of the device on the door of the resident’s room, among other conditions. However, it would prohibit audio recording.

Under the bill, the monitoring would be completely voluntary at the election of the resident or their representative, and all costs would be paid by the resident. The nursing home would be required to make reasonable accommodation for electronic monitoring including a reasonably secure location and access to a power source. The bill  provides that a nursing home could not deny admission to a resident or remove a resident because of a request to install an electronic monitoring device.

The vast majority of consumer advocates and health care experts support the bill but called for audio as well as visual recording devices so as to protect residents from verbal abuse. And they recommended that general notices be posted throughout the nursing home stating that recording devices may be used in any resident room. The notices would be a deterrent for those caregivers who neglect and abuse their residents.  Some experts expressed concern that posting notices of electronic monitoring on doors of rooms where it is being used could shift the potential for abuse to residents without the devices.

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