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Can "Granny Cams" Help Deter Elder Abuse?

Around the country, cases of elder abuse are increasing supported by the use of videotape evidence. This is because family members are installing security cameras, often referred to as “granny cams,” in the nursing home rooms of seniors in order to monitor their care.

A story earlier this year detailed the growing use of cameras to prevent elder abuse in California. The story highlighted how the family of 73-year-old woman was able to capture video of her being shaken in her wheelchair by staff members at Fair Oaks Residential Elderly Care.

Although the technology certainly can give families a way to monitor their loved one from a distance, senior advocates stress that the cameras cannot catch everything. “They can’t pick up the cleanliness of that home, the interactions necessarily outside of where that camera is,” said Cheryl Simcox of Ombudsman Services of Northern California, a government agency that advocates for proper senior care.

It is also important to note that the security cameras also raise some legal concerns. In general, California law prohibits hidden cameras in places where people can expect a reasonable amount of privacy, such as bedrooms and locker rooms. In addition, the law bans all voice recordings without the explicit consent of all parties.

Therefore, to avoid any potential liability, it is best to ask the permission of a nursing home’s administrator before installing a “granny cam.”