Clara Berridge PhD, MSW
Researchers at Brown University have distributed an 8-question online survey to AHCA/NCAL members in order to learn about how facilities treat camera use in resident rooms and current use of in-room cameras. We’re learning the opinions of people who have direct knowledge of the issue. The survey is anonymous so it is not possible to know how representative our findings are; that is, we cannot say that these results represent facilities nationwide. Here’s what we are finding so far with 228 surveys complete (the survey is still open – you can take it at the link below).
One quarter of the respondents report that their facility allows family members to install cameras in resident rooms, while 16% of respondents had knowledge of at least one camera currently in use by a family member. More assisted living respondents than nursing center respondents report that they permit family members to use cameras, and they have more cameras: Forty percent of the assisted living respondents report current use, compared with 7% of nursing centers and 16% of facilities that are a combination of both. Half of the assisted living respondents report that they allow family members to install cameras. The vast majority (90%) of all respondent types have never had a facility-initiated camera. Notification, such as signage when a camera is in use in a room is required in only half of the facilities that reported allowing cameras or current use.
We also ask respondents to write in comments about concerns and advantages of resident-room cameras. Most people identify both concerns and advantages, though concerns are noted more often. The most common response voiced by 122 respondents is that cameras in resident rooms violate resident, roommate, staff and/or visitor privacy. The second most commonly expressed opinion (56 respondents) is that cameras would be helpful for investigating complaints and allegations. Many believe that this is the only appropriate use for cameras, though a number of respondents also worried that cameras will fuel improper litigation and misinterpretation of interactions. Less common, but insightful comments include the potential to undermine resident and staff dignity and trust, or to demoralize staff and make them want to work elsewhere. Also noted are the parallels of living on camera with institutionalization and difficulty making video feed secure. Others noted that family members would benefit from peace of mind and that awareness of being surveilled could deter theft or abuse. A number of respondents commented on how the facilities, rather than family, could use cameras, such as to monitor staff, explain falls, or make family members aware of resident behaviors.
The 2-minute, anonymous survey is still open to facilities representatives. You can contribute to our understanding of this issue by completing it here: Please take only one survey per facility.