By Drew White
LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE -- A "granny cam" bill to allow nursing home residents or their legal representatives to install monitoring devices in residents' rooms passed unanimously in the Senate Wednesday.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, would enable family members or guardians to stay connected with their loved ones. The bill now returns to the House for final consideration.
Proponents of the bill say installing cameras would provide safer environments because family members could identify health problems quickly and protect older adults.
"You can observe your family member if you want at a distance and give great comfort," said Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie. "These cameras are generally a little box you plug into the wall, and they connect to the Internet."
Under the measure, a camera would be in a fixed stationary position that does not face out into the hall in order to protect the privacy rights of other residents. A sign bearing the words "this room is electronically monitored" would be required for rooms with cameras.
Either the resident or their family would shoulder the cost of the camera and installation. A device would have to be approved by the resident if he or she has the mental capacity to make the decision.
Sen. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, added an amendment that a resident's capacity to consent would be determined by rules promulgated by the Louisiana Department of Health in the next month. The Legislature would have oversight for what those rules are.
Nursing home industry leaders initially voiced concerns that residents' monitoring devices could be hacked, but multiple legislators believed the hacking concerns were overblown.
Six states have adopted similar nursing home surveillance equipment bills. Louisiana is among a dozen states considering a "granny cam" bill this year.