Tuesday, November 19, 2013
This semester in Penn State's Elder Law class, I encouraged students to write one of their two required short papers on some aspect of the "future of elder law," in the largest sense of that phrase. Several students examined technology and aging, including use of video technology to monitor care or provide tracking of medication or movement. One student's paper is about due process implications of monitoring for staff and family members.
The future is now, of course, in the world of video technology, especially in a CCTV world of almost constant surveillance. The New York Times reports another dramatic example of abuse as caught on "granny cams" used in a nursing home. In "Watchful Eye in Nursing Homes," writer Jan Hoffman details examples of abuse bordering on torture caught on video at an Oklahoma nursing home.
The article points to the trend in state legislation or regulations expressly authorizing video monitoring, laws that attempt to strike a balance between potential rights of privacy and safety:
"On Nov. 1, propelled by the outcry over the Mayberry case, Oklahoma became the third state — along with New Mexico and Texas — to explicitly permit residents in long-term care facilities to maintain surveillance cameras in their rooms. In the last two years, at least five states have considered similar legislation. Although some states have administrative guidelines for electronic monitoring, most legislative efforts have stalled because of questions about liability and, in particular, privacy rights, raised by facility owners, unions, elder care lawyers and families."
Our friend and colleague, Nina Kohn, elder law professor extraordinaire at Syracuse Law, is quoted in the article on the need for caution in implementing surveillance.