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Driven by their mistrust of nursing homes, more families are starting to take advantage of advances made in surveillance technology and are now using video cameras to help them protect loved ones whom they suspect of being mistreated or abused by caregivers.
Even law enforcement officials and some facility managers are now utilizing hidden cameras to catch workers who are mistreating the elderly or vulnerable residents, including two cases at assisted-living facilities located in Minnesota in recent years.
There are currently no figures available, but professionals in the long-term care industry say that the use of these so-called “granny cams” is gradually spreading, though also raising a horde of privacy and legal issues.
Just this spring, a hidden camera was placed by an Ohio man in a desk fan and caught two nursing home caregivers hitting and abusing his 78-year-old mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Workers in a New Jersey assisted-living facility were caught on camera abusing an 87-year-old woman, prompting the woman’s family to file a wrongful-death lawsuit in June.
In New York, 22 workers were arrested by authorities last year after hidden cameras revealed the maltreatment of elderly residents in two facilities.
Georgia Anetzberger, the newly elected president of the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, said that the spread of hidden cameras in various nursing homes is part of a wider proliferation of video surveillance in society to catch those committing traffic violations or criminal acts like shoplifting.
She said, “Cameras are used to catch people more than ever before, not just because the technology is there but because it’s more widely accepted.”