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“I’m not advocating for turning anyone’s private life into a reality show,” Madigan said as she announced her support for the idea Monday.

Allowing cameras, she said, would “give us peace of mind in circumstances where we can’t physically go to the nursing home.” The Tribune spoke with Kathy Swanson of the Legal Assistance Foundation’s long-term-care ombudsman program, who pointed out it can be difficult to obtain consent when a nursing home resident’s mental capacity is impaired.

A new article on an industry website called Senior Housing News reveals that a growing number of states across the country are considering legislation to allow what are commonly called “Granny Cams” in skilled nursing homes – and some of these new laws would expand camera monitoring to assisted living facilities and other types of senior housing. Simply put, it’s a camera installed at the request (and expense) of the family of a nursing home resident that monitors the type of care the resident is receiving.

Since Washington State is among the five that already have Granny Cam laws in place, this form of resident monitoring will quite possibly affect you or someone you love. With new technology allowing more ways to track elder care, new state laws that regulate the practice are, in the words of the Senior Housing News article, “bringing privacy issues to a head.” Five states have such laws in place and two more are considering new laws that would, among other provisions, expand monitoring regulations beyond skilled nursing facilities.

In the three states that have the law and a dozen others that have considered one in the past decade, the industry has raised privacy concerns.

Such close scrutiny also could make it difficult for homes to retain staff members who already face low pay and high demands, critics have said.

For many the motivation may be to watch staff and hold them accountable for failing to provide the required care.

For others, juggling work, being a parent and a caregiver, there is some peace that comes with a daily snap shot or two knowing your loved one is being cared for and is comfortable.

According to Chicago elder care attorney Jason Lundy, it’s the resident and his or her family.“In a lot of cases, nobody knows what the person who is impacted by this law wants,” Swanson said.Nursing home cameras are already allowed in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Maryland and Washington state.Although I seriously doubt Virginia will create a law on either side of this issue in the near future, I respect and honor the families that want to keep a closer eye.If your car dealer tapes your experience in the loan department (and they do), and Kroger tapes you at the salad bar (and they do), and Disney requires a finger print to visit for the day – are there really privacy issues in a nursing home where a disabled person is in need of acute medical care?

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