Are Granny Cams Allowed in Utah Assisted Living Facilities?

Can I Install a Granny Cam in a Nursing Home in Utah During Covid and at Other Times?


In Utah,  pursuant to Utah Code Sec. 26-21-303, A resident or the resident’s legal representative may operate or install a monitoring device in the resident’s room if the resident and the resident’s legal representative, if any, unless the resident is incapable of informed consent:

(a)        notifies the resident’s facility in writing that the resident or the resident’s legal representative, if any:

(i)         intends to operate or install a monitoring device in the resident’s room; and

(ii)        consents to a waiver agreement, if required by a facility;

(b)        obtains written consent from each of the resident’s roommates, and their legal representative, if any, that specifically states the hours when each roommate consents to the resident or the resident’s legal representative operating the monitoring device; and

(c)        assumes all responsibility for any cost related to installing or operating the monitoring device.

When your loved one enters a nursing home or assisted living center, you expect them to be safe.  You expect them to get the care they need in a peaceful environment.  But do you ever wonder what happens when you aren’t there?  Do you wonder if their care declines when no one is looking?  Especially in light of the visiting restrictions and the inevitable increased stress of staff that COVID-19 has imputed upon residential care facilities, do you worry about your loved one’s care?

Indeed, around 5 million nursing home residents are abused each year.[1]  Elder abuse can come in many forms.  According to the National Center for Victims of Crime[2], the breakdown of types of complaints about elder abuse is as follows:

·       28% – Physical abuse

·       22% – Resident-on-resident abuse (physical or sexual)

·       19% – Psychological abuse

·       15% – Gross neglect

·       8% – Sexual abuse

·       8% – Financial exploitation

How can you better ensure your loved one isn’t suffering from these types of abuse at a trusted care facility?  Most folks have probably heard of a nanny cam – a camera set up to see how the babysitter treats your kids while you are away.  But in recent years, granny cams have also become popular.  This is a camera that is set up in your loved one’s room at the nursing home or assisted living facility.  Knowing what’s going on behind closed doors could give the senior’s family and friends peace of mind.  But are granny cams legal?  If so, are there any requirements that you provide the nursing home notice that the camera is there?  Are there any concerns about granny cams?

One concern with granny cams is privacy.  This entails the resident’s privacy that is subject to the granny cam and the confidentiality of any other residents in the room.  Would you want your every move in your residence recorded?  Does having a granny cam ruin or distort the intended home-like atmosphere of the facility?  Knowing that they are continually being recorded may make some residents feel uncomfortable or stressed.

Another concern is the security of the footage.  Undoubtedly, private and vulnerable moments are captured on video, like a resident dressing or completing personal hygiene tasks.  What are the responsibilities of the owner of such footage?  Can it be stored for a period of time?  Also, the video feed must be protected from hackers.  Imagine the horror of seeing your loved one’s private footage online or exploited! 

The obvious benefit to having a granny cam installed is that you can monitor for abuse or crimes.  Is the resident getting the care they need and deserve?  Are their valuables safe? The footage from granny cams can be invaluable in prosecuting violations.  You can also watch the footage for cues on how to make your senior healthier or more comfortable, such as watching for bad sleep patterns or noticing your loved one doesn’t enjoy visits from a particular neighbor.

What are some other ways, besides installing a granny cam, to better protect your beloved senior while they are residing in a care facility? 

·       Make friends with the staff.  If you treat them well and they care for you, they may be apt to go the extra mile for your loved one.

·       Let the staff know what type of care your loved one needs.  Make sure they know what your standards are.

·       Talk with administrators about their hiring and employee retention policies.  Are criminal background checks conducted on an ongoing basis?  What certifications or educational requirements do staff have? 

·       Visit often and at various times.  If the staff knows you may pop in at any minute, they’ll be on their toes! Can’t visit due to COVID-19?  Make phone or Zoom calls, or visit a resident by going to their window.

·       Communicate with your loved one.  Ask them a specific question about their care and property.  Let them know they can always come to you with concerns. 

·       Talk with other residents if they are willing.  What do they notice going on at the facility? Do they have any concerns about the staff?

With the use of technology continually on the rise, the usage of granny cams likely won’t be quelled anytime soon.  In fact, more states will likely put laws on the books to address their use.  And who knows what technology the years to come will bring –possibly better surveillance technology with enhanced security.  Hopefully, this means better care for seniors in care facilities.