The Star-Tribune reported on a bill (“Granny Cam Bill”) proposed by Minnesota lawmakers seeking to protect nursing home residents from maltreatment by giving them the right to monitor their care with electronic recording devices without fear of retaliation.   The proposal would make Minnesota the sixth state to explicitly permit residents of long-term care facilities to install surveillance equipment in their private rooms.

“No one should be treated differently because they choose to have a camera in their room,” said Sen. Alice Johnson, DFL-Blaine, the bill’s main sponsor, who said she drafted it partly in response to recent cases of abuse and neglect caught on camera.

There have been dozens of well-publicized cases in which hidden-camera footage was used to corroborate reports of abuse and neglect at Twin Cities-area nursing homes, some of which have led to criminal charges. Allegations of abuse in senior homes are notoriously difficult to prove, and hidden cameras are considered one of the few ways that families can corroborate claims by elderly relatives.

Currently, Minnesota law is largely silent on the use of hidden cameras, and this lack of regulation is partly why the technology has proliferated, say advocates. In effect, the bill would end the use of “hidden” cameras in Minnesota nursing homes.

The legislation would require a nursing home resident to consent to the use of a camera before it can be installed and to notify the facility of their intent to use electronic monitoring. In addition, signs must be clearly posted notifying visitors of the devices, among other rules.

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