In-home surveillance has become more acceptable in recent years. If you are caring for an elderly parent but you work full time, cameras in the home may be a useful tool to ensure safety of the parent while you are gone during the day. A parent who has dementia or another similar cognitive disorder, might be a flight risk. By installing cameras with video monitoring, you can make sure that your loved one is seen and stopped before getting out of the house or venturing very far from the home.
However, there is a downside to installing cameras. You are invading the privacy of the person being monitored. Using a home camera for recording someone without their consent may present serious consequences. Then there is the cost of the installation. While some may be knowledgeable enough to find solid equipment and install it themselves, some will require expert installation and more expensive equipment.
In December 2016, the Division of Consumer Affairs enacted a “Safe Care Cam” program. New Jersey has been in the forefront in trying to combat elder abuse by handing out cameras (on loan) for free to families who hire private caregivers and our concerned about potential abuse. The rationale behind the is that elder abusers are rarely caught and prosecuted. Many of the elderly victims are unable to report the crime themselves or provide sufficient proofs to establish elder abuse. Therefore, capturing evidence of abuse is an important public policy goal. The state does, however, require camera borrowers to agree not to make audio recordings as this would violate federal wiretap laws. It also prohibits cameras in bathrooms or the caregiver’s bedroom.
In May 2017, the Division of Consumer Affairs enacted its enhanced “Safe Care Cam” program, which also provides cameras for nursing home or other institutional care facilities. New Jersey law allows individuals to record another individual without their knowledge. In addition, certified health aides seeking certification through the Board of Nursing will not receive conditional certifications prior to the Board having an opportunity to review the results of their criminal history background checks. CHHAs must now be fully vetted and certified by the Board before providing care for patients.
Of course, it is not just the caretaker’s rights that are implicated, but also the senior who usually is not capable of consenting. Finding the right balance between protecting vulnerable adults and invading privacy is the goal.
The attorneys at Weiss & Tom are familiar with the elder law issues confronting families caring for the elderly. For more information on this, you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.