Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

What Are the Ethical Implications of Cameras in Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility Rooms? Clara Berridge Assesses the First Survey on the Topic

Posted: 11/16/2018 (CSDE Research)

CSDE Affiliate and Assistant Professor of Social Work, Clara Berridge, confronts the ethical implications of affordable web-enabled video cameras increasingly adopted by families in an effort to protect elders in residential care from the possibility of harm. In the context of a growing aging population and intensifying strain on the direct care workforce, gerontologists and policy makers must delineate the ethical problems this practice responds to and presents.

In the article, “The Ethics of Cameras in Resident Rooms: Findings from a Survey of Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facilities,” the authors describe findings from the first survey of nursing homes and assisted living facilities about in-room cameras and facility policies. The survey was distributed nationally to members of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living and included two open-ended questions on perceived risks and benefits. The respondents addressed ethical challenges including how in-room cameras affect the privacy and dignity of the residents, what being under surveillance does to care workers’ sense of being fiduciaries for the clients, and  how this discretionary monitoring approach privatizes a systemic need to protect elders.

This analysis highlights policymakers’, facilities’, and family members’ responsibility for understanding the ethical implications of camera use in older adults’ living spaces, including potential dehumanizing aspects that may undermine bigger-picture and more inclusive responses to the institutional problem of abuse.

 

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