Is it legal to place a nanny-cam in a private nursing home to see if Dad is being abused?

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My Dad is in a NH. long term, special care unit and started hospice there a few months ago. It is a top-notch, wonderful facility and I believe that he is getting good care. He continually asks when he is coming home. Now he is telling me that some of the nurses are hitting him and twisting his arms. While I don't care for some of the CNAs, I can't imagine that happening. But I feel responsible to look into it. If it were true and I did nothing, I'd be horrified. But it could also be his way of trying to manipulate me to bring him home, which can't happen. Mom and Dad live in a rented one bedroom apartment, he's completely bed ridden, doesn't walk, can't feed himself etc....needs 24 care so no room for a caregiver.He's also on Medicaid. I hope someone out there can give me some tangible advice on this one. Nancy-cam? If I talk to the staff at the NH, maybe they'll take it out on him. I'm also afraid of that. Thanks. --SS

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From the sound of things, likely this is your dad's way of trying to get you to do what he wants. That being said, you are right that you'd feel horrible if he was telling the truth. I think you'd see bruising (elders generally bruise easily), but still a camera may set your mind to rest.

As long as the camera is focused on your dad, I don't see a legal issue but every state is different. You may want to check with www.ltcombusdsman.org. Go to the site, type in the Zip code of the nursing home, and your ombudsman (representative) can give you the information you need. Good luck,
Carol
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I agree and you don't know if it is truth or not but I will share this much with you. This does go on and you are right to also (I would) go and speak to the head nurses there to tell them what was said to you. They will investigate. No elder should ever be abused if this is indeed true. It has happened way too many times. You hear about it and read about it so it may not be as far fetched a story as you think. Check it out and ease your mind and let the nurses know of this right away. Carol gave that great link and I would follow up with that too. Also check to see if this particular nursing home has had any similar occurrences or complaints. Another quick thought here. Could it be possible they were trying to restrain him from lashing out at them? I am only asking because patients do this to nurses all the time. They have to protect their selves too. But on second thought you said he can not feed himself so his use of arms may not be able to do this. Hopefully he is not coercing you to take him home with this story but I would most definitely talk to someone about this because you just don't know. Has he ever said any of this type of thing to you before? I would like to come back to this page and await your response. Do yourself a favor and talk to the administration there of your concerns. You will feel better for doing so. Blessings.
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Hi all. The ombudsman website quoted has a typo with an extra s. It should be www.ltcombudsman.org. Thanks for the great resource.
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When I put my mom in a local NH for skilled nursing, when signing the papers I was told that I could put a camera in her room if I felt uncomfortable about anything.

People are video recorded on a daily basis without their permission and often their knowledge, due to the increased prevalence of security cams...and elder-care / protection is a big deal for everyone. If the NH carefully screens their staff and supervises closely, then they should be just as eager to clear their name as you are.
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Moving him is not an easy task especially if he is seeking a medicaid bed. Moving him is a massive endeavor for suspicion only. Moving him? The ombuds link above did not work for me. Since none of us are attorneys you will likely need to seek one but in the meantime you can google the topic. as i recall i went to defendthyself which had links to spy cameras. among them is a wrist watch...that is not installing a cam. Privacy areas by federal law not allowed so whatever evidence you might obtain must be video on your loved one and no others. the problem with nursing homes is the cna is in the private room doing what he/she wishes while no one is looking. Do it! There is also a pen device that you could leave on his nightstand or...there is a baseball cap type hat although the cna may take it off...looks like according to FEDERAL laws audio is not allowed so the individual recommending he be moved based on some suspicion seems a bit radical at this time. in my opinion a wrist watch is not installing or hiding...its in plain recordable view. Similarly if an attorney tells you it is not legal it begs the question people that have recorded, discovered abuse/maltreatment have taken their videos to attorneys who have sued individuals and facilities. if its illegal how were cases brought?
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Another thing to think about - since you say both your mom and dad are there and share the same apartment - what does your mom say? If she doesn't have Alz/Dementia, I would think talking to her quietly without your dad could also give you an insight. My mother-in-law used to say the nurses were mean to her too, but I never saw any signs of abuse. I believe she was being treated well - she just didn't like it there. She didn't understand that the nurses were responsible for more than just her. When she pushed the button - she basically wanted them to come running to find out what she needed. But it's still hard when someone else is caring for your elder and you hear things like that and hoping they're getting the right care and you're doing the right thing. Good luck!!
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Thank you everyone. I have a call into the director for a frank discussion. I will definitely call our ombudsman, Carol, great idea! Thank you for reminding me of that. I have not seen any sign, bruising, of abuse, and yes, he bruises easily. Yes, Crystal, he lashes out. Mom lives alone in the apartment and while she feels guilty he is not home there is no way she could care for him. Plus, he is very verbally abusive to everyone, including Mom, so bringing him back to the apartment would be a nightmare for her and me, the only caregiver. He's still in denial about his physically inabilities and general condition and I suspect that will never change. Mom does not make good decisions partly because her whole life, she didn't have to; Dad made all the decisions. A year ago, he didn't call 911 to help him up when he would fall because he threatened her not to. Instead, he sat on the floor and his arm bled for two hours and she would wipe it up. Hope this gives you all a better picture!! Now she's living independently, (with A LOT of help) and doing fine.
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i dont think telling the suspect (the caregiver employed by the facility both of which are suspect) are not going to take your desire to record lightly. I would not tip them off. That's like asking a robber to please smile in the camera in the bank.
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good point about all of us being videoed without our permission and/or knowledge all of the time; quite an invasion. Read the other night that even dressing rooms in department stores are bugged (i think with audio). I guess the law gets sticky when we want a cam in a private area...where else would a caregiver abuse a patient...certainly not out in the public hallway? Geeeeze.
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Thanks everyone. Looks like I have some homework to do! I am a big ruler follower so I would not do this unless I knew it was legal. I also will not be moving him (unless of course this is true). He is in a top notch place, yet I know this can happen anywhere. People are on the waiting list for years; we just got lucky with the timing. He is on Medicaid. He is receiving hospice; 4th month. He IS miserable. Who wouldn't be? He is in a shared room. Roommate can't speak; haven't met the family yet. I see no visible signs of abuse on Dad. So I just need to figure out if he is playing me to get him out of there (which can't happen) or if it is true. I do somewhat agree with not talking to the directors at the facility, as it would tip them off; not just yet. I need to think methodically here. All great thoughts, thank you for caring.
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