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Illinois lets nursing home residents install electronic monitoring systems

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Long-term care (LTC) planning specialists may have a new question to talk about: What do clients and their caregivers think about in-room video surveillance?

Illinois has become the sixth U.S. state to enact a law giving nursing home residents the right to install video cameras and audio recording devices in their rooms.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the bill creating the law, H.B. 2462, Friday. The bill was proposed by Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago.

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Starting in January 2016, Illinois will give residents of nursing homes and residents of homes for the intellectually or developmentally disabled the right to pay for outside electronic monitoring systems or services for their own rooms.

Critics of “nanny cam” bills and laws in Illinois and in other states have argued that in-room electronic surveillance systems could cause privacy problems, by leading to conflicts between residents and their loved ones, and between residents and roommates.

Illinois lawmakers have tried to deal with privacy concerns by giving the nursing home residents themselves the right to reject efforts by guardians or others to install in-room surveillance devices. 

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Residents who say they want in-room monitoring devices and have roommates must get written permission from the roommates before installing the devices, and the residents and roommates can have the devices turned off at any time, according to the statute text.

When residents or roommates are unable to understand the nature of electronic monitoring, health care agents, legal representatives or family caregivers can make decisions about monitoring for the residents and roommates.

The residents must pay for the devices, Internet service and any paid monitoring services themselves.

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A facility cannot charge a resident for the electricity used to power the device.

The law authorizes the spending of up to $50,000 per year to help poor nursing home residents pay for electronic monitoring devices and services. Before the state can spend that money, lawmakers must make the money available through a separate appropriation bill.

In facilities in which some residents use electronic monitoring, a facility must post “Electronic Monitoring” signs at entrances accessible to visitors. The signs must state, “The rooms of some residents may be monitored electronically by or on behalf of the residents.”

Facilities will have to get written consent from the residents or the residents’ representatives before looking at the surveillance videos or listening to the surveillance recordings.

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