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The Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act 

A new law will allow cameras in Illinois nursing home rooms. The law titled “Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act” was signed by Governor Rauner on August 21, 2015 and backed by Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Illinois joins five other states – New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, California, and Washington – in passing legislation that allows cameras to be installed in nursing home rooms.

Supporters of the law state that it will ensure that nursing home residents are treated well, provide family with peace of mind regarding the care of their loved ones, and help to resolve disputes regarding suspected abuse and neglect. Opponents argue that electronic monitoring opens up concerns about a resident’s ability to consent and the privacy of facility residents.
 
Specifically, the law allows a nursing home resident to electronically monitor their own room provided that their consent and notice has been given to the facility on prescribed forms. The resident must also obtain the consent of any and all roommates and bear all costs of purchase, installation, maintenance, and removal. The facility will be required to post signs at the entrance of the building and at the entrance of the resident’s room stating that the room is electronically monitored.  
 
Under the law, the facility cannot access any video or audio recording without consent of the resident or their legal representative. The law provides that any person or entity that obstructs or destroys a device is guilty of a misdemeanor offense. Furthermore, any video or audio created through authorized electronic monitoring may be admitted into evidence in a civil, criminal, or administrative proceeding. The law comes about at a time where the Illinois Department of Public Health reports receiving approximately 6,000 calls a year alleging neglect or abuse in nursing homes. In 2013, the Department found 106 allegations of abuse, neglect or theft of property by nursing home staff to be valid.
 
The law also comes about at a time where long-term care facilities in Illinois serve more than 100,000 residents. As the population continues to age and require long-term care, the law is said to add another “line of defense” for long-term care residents. The law goes into effect January 1, 2016.
 
Written by Melissa LaPointe, Attorney at Dutton & Casey P.C.