Surveillance in Elderly Abuse Cases in Washington State

Think your loved one might be being abused in a nursing home? If the facility is in Washington State, the law is on your side. You have the right to install surveillance devices in your loved one’s room, as long as you follow certain procedural guidelines. Washington is one of only five states that allow for or mandate video cameras (“electronic monitoring”) in long-term care facilities. It’s a beneficial piece of legislation that affords elderly nursing home residents and their families protection and peace of mind. When someone suspects their loved one may be abused, sometimes capturing video is really the only way to prove it.

Surveillance in Nursing Homes

Washington House Bill 2173 provides, “Long-term care facilities must permit a resident to install electronic monitoring and provide reasonable physical accommodation to facilitate the installation and use of the electronic monitoring device. Facilities must inform new residents and current residents of their right to conduct electronic monitoring.”

Opponents of this law are concerned that using surveillance would make it hard for already-understaffed nursing homes to recruit staff for these typically low-wage positions. They are also fearful that footage could misrepresent a situation if an aide is assisting a combative or uncooperative resident.

However, if bank tellers, bus drivers and police officers are subject to on-the-job surveillance, shouldn’t nursing homes workers be? They are in charge of the care for dependent elderly; proper care is paramount to their very lives. Video cameras won’t undermine or impede workers. Rather, it can be the catalyst that helps them make better decisions

Conditions of Installing Video Surveillance in a Care Facility

Washington laws provide several conditions you must meet in order to install a video camera at your loved one’s facility. If your loved one is incompetent and you are the guardian, you can authorize electronic monitoring, as can the attorney-in-fact. The conditions are below.

  • You have to give the facility written notice of your plans to install a video camera.
  • You have to pay for the equipment, installation and maintenance of monitoring.
  • You have to get written consent from your loved one’s roommate (or his or her family) for surveillance. If the roommate makes any specific stipulations, you have to meet those conditions, e.g., no video monitoring on his or her side of the room. If the roommate objects entirely, you have the right ask the facility to move your loved one to a new room.

The law prohibits a facility from discriminating against residents (refusing them care or retaliating against them) when they try to install a video camera. If the facility denies your right to install equipment or retaliates, speak to an attorney immediately.

Using Surveillance to Protect Your Loved One

You are allowed to use any video or photos you legally capture from the nursing home in court; it’s admissible in all types of proceedings, including civil, criminal and administrative. In fact, “charges have already been filed in several states against abusive and neglectful caregivers, facilities have been shut down and workers put in prison. Cameras would help end abuse and neglect and improve the quality of care and quality of life for the residents,” explains the Washington Health Care Association.

If your loved one was, in fact, abused or neglected, you can speak to a lawyer about how to file a claim to hold the wrongdoer liable for the damages. Any medical bills, counseling expenses, pain and suffering, etc. are compensable if they are found at fault. Video surveillance will be extremely helpful in substantiating your claims.

For a free consultation with nursing home abuse lawyer in Washington, call Ron Meyers & Associates PLLC today at 844-920-2438.