Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

Clara Berridge Investigates Ethical and Legal Dimensions of Cameras in Nursing Home Rooms

Posted: 3/18/2019 (CSDE Research)

In two recent articles, CSDE Affiliate Clara Berridge, Assistant Professor of Social Work, examines the implications of web-enabled video cameras adopted by families to protect elders in residential care from the possibility of harm, often with insufficient attention to ethical implications and privacy vulnerabilities for residents, care workers, and roommates. Considering the ethical implications of how we use technology to keep older adults safe has become urgent, with seven state laws now regulating camera monitoring and more on the way.

The first article, published in the Elder Law Journal, presents a comparative analysis of seven state regimes that regulate the use of monitoring systems in nursing home resident rooms. Authors find that states attempt to protect privacy through a variety of interlocking privacy constraints: social, technical, and institutional safeguards that restrict how monitoring devices can be introduced and operated.

The second, published in AJOB Empirical Bioethics, draws on findings from the first facility survey on this topic to address three ethical issues: the risk that in-room cameras pose to residents’ privacy and dignity, the risk of undermining care workers’ sense of being fiduciaries for residents, and the probable extension of camera use by facilities to monitor staff and residents. Authors argue that with an aging population, intensifying strain on the care workforce, and ease of access to Web-connected cameras, this is a critical moment to address these ethical challenges

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