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Surveillance can protect nursing home residents

Anyone with loved ones in a nursing home -- or facing the prospect soon -- should be aware of The Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act. It allows residents of nursing homes to install video and audio surveillance equipment in their rooms at the long-term care facilities to address the issue of nursing home abuse. Naturally, as with any legislation, people have questions about it.

What is the objective of the Act? 

The objective of the Act is to prevent neglect and abuse of nursing home residents. Although surveillance equipment can provide a record of any neglect and abuse that does happen, the goal is that the presence of the surveillance equipment will deter neglect and abuse from happening in the first place, since staff members who would be inclined to mistreat residents would not want their misdeeds recorded.

Do residents and their roommates have to consent to the installation of surveillance equipment?

Yes. All residents and roommates in whose rooms surveillance equipment is installed must consent to the installation in accordance with their natural right to privacy. If the resident is declared by a physician to be incapable of giving consent, their family members or other legal guardians can give consent on their behalf. When residents and roommates do give consent, they can withdraw it any time.

Who pays for the surveillance equipment?

The residents and their families are responsible for the cost of the surveillance equipment and the cost of getting it installed. However, the Illinois Department of Public Health has a fund from which they can disperse $50,000 a year, via lottery, to residents who want the surveillance equipment but can't afford it. Those granted money from that fund can use it for both the purchase and the installation of the surveillance equipment, making it an option worth looking into for those who are at risk.

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