Illinois Law Now Allows Cameras in Nursing Homes; Some Call Them ‘Granny Cams’

Under a law enacted in Illinois in August 2015, the Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Facilities Act became effective on Jan. 1, 2016. Under its provisions, residents and their roommates have the right to consent to having a video or audio recording devices installed in their rooms. The cost of the installation and the equipment must be paid by the resident or the resident’s family or loved ones. Some refer to the video installed in nursing homes as “granny cams.”

Illinois has become one of just a handful of states that allow the recording devices in nursing home residents’ rooms. The law is in response to growing numbers of cases of nursing home abuse that regularly takes place in these facilities at the expense of the most vulnerable of our citizens: the elderly, the ill and infirm.

The Illinois Department of Public Health will establish a fund of $50,000 that will be given each year to residents selected by a lottery to purchase and install monitoring devices in nursing homes. It will be a criminal offense to tamper, obstruct or destroy the devices.  Nursing homes are not allowed under this law to discriminate or retaliate against a resident who installs the monitoring systems.

The new act contains provisions regarding facility accommodations, notice of monitoring visitors, facility access to recordings, admissibility of recordings and legal actions and other such provisions.  Information on this law can be found at this link:

There are some important limitations as to the permission of cameras in the resident’s room. The cameras in nursing homes must be installed in a “conspicuously visible location” in the room of the resident. There is also a requirement that signs be posted outside of the resident’s room in addition to building entrances notifying guests and others that electronic monitoring is in place. Further, the resident or the resident’s representative and the resident roommate must sign a lengthy consent form prepared by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

As a requirement in the consent form, either the resident or roommate may request restrictions in how the monitoring may be handled.  There are examples cited in the consent form including prohibiting audio, turning off the camera during certain times such as when residents are dressing, bathing or during a health-care provider’s visit or visit by clergy.

The resident is responsible for paying for the installation, maintenance, Internet access and any other charges associated with the monitoring devices.

The use of the monitoring system is thought to be a way to sharply reduce the number of nursing home abuses inflicted on residents, but at the same time nursing home residents sacrifice privacy and the security of their health-care information. Nursing home residents have the right to privacy with regard to accommodations, medical treatment, written and telephonic communications, visits and meetings with family members and other residents. Nursing home residents also have the right to the confidentiality of personal and clinical records pursuant to federal law (42 U.S.C.A. Sections 1395i-3(c)(1)(A)(iii) and (iv); 42 C.F.R. Section 483.10(e)).

The act is another safeguard for nursing home residents who suffer abuse at alarmingly high rates in Illinois. The idea of monitoring residents should be a method that would lead to a stark reduction in abuses of all kinds including, physical, sexual, financial and fall protection. There is, however, untested issues that will be forthcoming as the law takes hold. I can think of any number of ways that this law may be in conflict with the privacy laws ensured for each nursing home and long-term facility resident.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling nursing home abuse cases, nursing home negligence cases, long-term facility injury cases and assisted living injury cases for individuals and families who have been injured or killed by the negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas including, Melrose Park, Elmwood Park, Elmhurst, Flossmoor, Highwood, Highland Park, Glencoe, Glenview, Northfield, Winnetka ,Evanston, Rosemont, Aurora, St. Charles, Geneva, Joliet, Bolingbrook, Bensenville, Romeoville, Lansing, Lynwood and Skokie, Ill.

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