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Illinois families turn to technology to monitor loved ones’ care

Hidden cameras sometimes catch people doing what they shouldn’t be doing. Video surveillance cameras can capture criminal behavior and proof of liability. You’ve probably read about “nanny cams,” which secretly monitor the activities of child care workers. The same technology is being put to use to detect nursing home neglect and abuse.

A hidden camera in your Cook County home is not the same as one placed in a nursing home. In nursing facilities, issues of transparency and privacy become a concern. Many patients in Chicago nursing homes are unable to give consent to the use of surveillance. These matters seem slight, however, for family members that have discovered evidence of nursing home negligence.

The daughter of a 96-year-old nursing home patient installed a hidden camera in her mother’s room last year, after she suspected someone was stealing personal items. The thief went undiscovered, but something worse was caught on camera – the abuse of her mother by two aides.

Video evidence showed a caregiver placing latex gloves in the elderly woman’s mouth, as the second aide made jeering remarks. The aides were viewed roughly throwing the woman on a bed. The elderly resident died not long after the episode.

The video led to a criminal conviction for one aide. The other aide fled prosecution. The incident also propelled lawmakers to enact legislation to permit surveillance cameras in nursing home residents’ rooms. Unfortunately, Illinois is not one of the states where the practice has legal backing.

Laws have not deterred family members from using in-room surveillance to learn how their loved ones are being cared for. Many relatives believe that if nursing homes and other facilities have nothing to hide, monitoring residents should not be a problem.

Proof of mistreatment cannot be dismissed in liability cases. Plaintiffs are compensated for injuries and deaths caused by medical negligence. Without the support of family members and attorneys, many nursing home residents have no voice.

Source:, “Watchful Eye in Nursing Homes” Jan Hoffman, Nov. 18, 2013


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