Are Granny Cams Legal To Use In Nursing Homes?

If you or a loved one is in a nursing home, then understanding what is and isn’t legal in nursing homes can be difficult to understand. According to BMC Health Services Research, abuse and neglect are rather widespread in nursing homes. This can compel family members to monitor their loved ones in nursing homes using a video camera, often called “granny cams.”

Family members might want to set up video to monitor residents in nursing homes, usually to identify and address any accidents or changes in their loved one’s health. Even if there is a good reason to use a camera, there must be formal consent by the resident, by any roommates being monitored, and by the nursing home for it to be legal in Maryland. Even then, you would need to ensure that no audio is recorded due to wiretapping laws, and you would be responsible for the security of the transmission and storage of video files.

They Are Legal Only if The Person Being Monitored Has Consented to It

In Maryland, it is not legal to use a camera or any other kind of surveillance or recording device to monitor someone living in a nursing home without consent. This applies to both the nursing home itself and the loved ones of the resident, and to any roommates and their families who might be planning to record video.

There are a handful of states that require nursing homes to allow family members to use granny cams or video surveillance of a resident without their consent, but Maryland isn’t one of them.

Though residents are often placed in nursing homes because they are unable to take care of themselves, they still have rights to privacy. If they cannot make decisions for themselves, their legal representative would have to give consent for the resident to be monitored by video. The question of a resident’s mental state may also come into play when determining whether the use of a granny cam in a nursing home is legal.

If You’re Concerned About a Loved One in a Nursing Home, Talk to Them About Video Monitoring, But Respect Their Decision

We understand that if you’re the loved one of someone who is in a nursing home that it’s only natural to be concerned for their safety. Many people have good intentions for wanting to use a granny cam. They want to make sure that their loved one is safe and getting the best care they can.

It’s often the threat of abuse or neglect that compels people to want to monitor their loved ones in nursing homes. It’s possible that an understaffed or negligent nursing home could miss medical emergencies or just generally fail to check up on their residents as often as they should, and as a loved one of someone in a nursing home, you would certainly want to know if that’s happening.

This doesn’t change the fact that Maryland still recognizes nursing home residents’ agency and independence over certain aspects of their lives. Some residents may want to be monitored for these very reasons, but they need to grant permission in a formal way. Being constantly monitored is an uncomfortable thought for most, and it’s important that their loved ones respect their decision.

Could Non-Consensual Monitoring Be Considered Nursing Home Abuse?

If someone has been recording you or a loved one in a nursing home in their room without their consent, it could certainly fall under the definition of nursing home abuse. Maryland Department of Aging defines six types of nursing home abuse, and the use of video monitoring could be considered psychological abuse depending on how it affects the person being monitored.

It defines psychological abuse as “Causing emotional pain towards older adults through verbal assaults, threats, or harassment. Perpetrators intimidate, humiliate, or attempt to isolate their victims.” The use of granny cams is likely not the first thing one thinks of when thinking of psychological abuse cases, but it could fit this definition.

Non-consensual video monitoring, by staff, another resident, or some other third party, could be used to intimidate or humiliate the resident being monitored if they are aware of their surveillance. If they aren’t aware of it and then find out, the betrayal of trust and feeling of being violated could also have lasting psychological effects.

The Next Steps After Discovering That You’re Being Monitored by a Granny Cam

If you realize that you or your loved one is being monitored by video or audio without consent, then you may have grounds for a nursing home abuse and neglect case.

You do not have to handle your case on your own, though. Our lawyers can seek fair compensation by filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. We can help:

  • Investigate your loved one’s case
  • Gather evidence of nursing home abuse or neglect
  • Handle all the paperwork involved in your claim or lawsuit
  • Negotiate a settlement
  • Represent your loved one in a trial if necessary.

Work With our Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers

At Brown & Barron, our nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys can help. We provide free consultations to discuss your case and the best form of recourse. Call us today!

Nurse talking to an elder woman
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