Six states, including Illinois, allow the use of recording equipment in nursing home residents' rooms with their permission. Other states have bills pending before their legislatures that would allow this monitoring.
For people who have family members living in these facilities, this surveillance can help provide peace of mind that their loved ones are being well cared for and not abused or neglected. Just the knowledge that their actions (or inactions) are being recorded should incentivize staff members in these facilities to do a better job, right?
One person who has researched the ethics of nursing home surveillance says that, in fact, the overall care provided by nursing home staff may not necessarily improve with monitoring. It may, she says, become "less organic." She notes that further research should look further at the effect of cameras on staff. Do they cause them to spend less time with residents in rooms with surveillance or more?
While surveillance can indeed provide evidence of abuse and neglect, there are larger issues that need to be addressed according to the researcher, who is a Canadian doctoral student. These include staffing and training. This nursing home surveillance, which in California is limited to video recordings with no audio, can't always capture verbal insults, which is one type of abuse that some residents endure from staff members as well as other residents.
There are clearly significant issues that impact of the level of care that need to be addressed in many nursing homes. However, recordings can provide evidence if family members ever suspect abuse of a loved one or decide to take legal action.
Source: Pacific Standard, "The Limits of Camera Monitoring to Reduce Caregiver Abuse," Elena Gooray, Feb. 02, 2016