"Granny Cam" Bills to Get Hearing in MO House Committee

Measure would allow video monitoring in nursing home rooms

Megan Lynch
March 26, 2018 - 6:00 am
Concept for an elderly senior couple living in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. People growing old and aged is an ongoing issue. You can see a walker and a wheelchair.

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Jefferson City, MO (KMOX) - Nursing home staff might come under the watchful eye of video cameras under a measure set for discussion in a Missouri House committee this week.

Legislation allowing long-term care residents and their families to install so-called "granny cams" has been introduced in Jefferson City several years running but has never gained much traction.  Supporters believe the measure would provide important protections for the state's most vulnerable residents.

"The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that about one in ten elderly people is the victim of abuse," says Mary Lynn Faunda Donovan, Executive Director of VOYCE, an organization that advocates for people in long-term care.  Donovan says research suggests tens of thousands of potential abuse and neglect cases go unreported each year.  "A lot of times the resident has a physical or mental impairment that they have a very difficult time communicating and explaining what has happened to them."  In other cases, Donovan says residents and their families can be fearful of what will happen if they do report abuse or neglect.   "Not only is this important in terms of documenting abuse and neglect that may occur, we believe it also would act as a deterrent."

Opponents have expressed concern that cameras could violate residents' privacy -- especially considering the personal nature of care.  Facilities have voiced worries that video monitoring would scare away qualified staff..  KMOX reached out to the Missouri Health Care Association for comment.  We did not get a response to our requests. 

The measure does require residents to sign consent forms and facilities would have to post signs alerting visitors, staff and residents to the presence of recording equipment.  The cost of the equipment would be the responsibility of the resident and their family.  A companion bill also slated for committee testimony this week would allow electronic monitoring in Missouri Veterans homes.

Only a handful of states have passed similar legislation.   Illinois has allowed electronic monitoring at long-term care facilities for two years.   The state Department of Public health says it received nearly 400 notification and consent forms the first year.  Data is not yet available for 2017.