There’s been a lot of debate in Georgia and other states about the use of cameras (both obvious and hidden) in nursing homes to help protect residents from abuse. Hidden cameras. in particular, are controversial.
Some elder care advocates, including those in the legal community, argue that they’re the only way to catch staff members abusing and hurting people when they think no one is watching. Those against them, including many nursing facility owners, argue that they violate the privacy of employees and residents.
Georgia lawmakers haven’t been able to agree about hidden cameras
Last year, some Georgia state lawmakers tried and failed to pass legislation addressing “authorized electronic monitoring in long-term care facilities.” However, disagreements over whether the monitoring had to be disclosed, where it could be located and in what kinds of legal actions the video could be used derailed it.
One of the sponsors of the legislation, a state representative who also owns a half dozen long-term care facilities, was against hidden cameras. He said that “cameras out in the open, that are disclosed, are going to do much more to prevent bad outcomes, bad incidents, bad behavior occurring. A hidden camera is going to do more to catch an incident after it’s happened.”
An executive with AARP Georgia favors having both. She says, “I just don’t want to see us legislate something that takes away that hidden camera piece, the accountability piece.”
Court ruling addresses the use of hidden videos as evidence
In late 2020, the Georgia Supreme Court weighed in on the admissibility of videos from hidden devices in nursing homes in both civil and criminal cases. It ruled in a case involving the death of an elderly man and the resulting criminal charges against three employees. They argued that the incriminating footage couldn’t be used as evidence because they had an expectation of privacy. The high court ruled against them. That ruling allows video from hidden cameras to be used both in criminal and civil court.
When looking for a nursing home for a loved one, it’s always wise to find out where their recording devices are located and what their policy is on allowing “granny cams,” as they’re often called, in the rooms. If you believe that a loved one has been harmed by someone on the staff or another resident, it’s crucial to have access to all possible evidence to help you seek justice.