This month, a Minnesota monitoring law has received some much-needed clarification with regard to its jurisdiction over nursing home residents. After an extensive period of adjustment and compromise, nursing home residents are now allowed to install surveillance equipment in their rooms with some restrictions according to the Star Tribune.
The Minnesota monitoring law, officially known as Minnesota Statutes § 144.6502 Electronic Monitoring In Certain Facilities, covers the rights and responsibilities of individuals wishing to install electronic surveillance equipment into places that are not their homes. The specific area of debate has been over section 3(a) which states “Except as otherwise provided in this subdivision, a resident must consent to electronic monitoring in the resident’s room or private living unit in writing on a notification and consent form.”
As of Jan. 2020, the Minnesota monitoring law has been clarified to state that Minnesotans do have the right to use electronic surveillance in most nursing homes and senior care facilities as long as the facility is notified and the consent of the residents being monitored is obtained. Additionally, beginning Jan. 2020, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in MInnesota are compelled by law to educate present and future residents of their right to use electronic monitoring.
This change to the Minnesota monitoring law was not done lightly, however. For much of 2019, elder advocacy groups, nursing home industry representatives, and state health officials debated and battled to find the balance that would curtail resident abuse while minimizing the invasion of personal privacy. The result is the current Minnesota monitoring law, modeled after Illinois law of a similar nature.
Under this adjusted law, families of nursing home residents must obtain the residents consent in order to use cameras in the room. If the resident has a roommate, that roommate must also give consent. If either the resident or a roommate is not physically or cognitively able to give consent, a 9-page waiver must be filled out and submitted along with a medical professional’s statement of the resident’s inability to consent.
One fear of some advocacy groups regarding the Minnesota monitoring law centers around the requirement of family members to inform the facility that the resident’s room will be monitored. Some advocates believe that by informing a poorly acting facility, the resident may be the subject of retaliation. To eschew the risks of retaliation from staff members, the Minnesota monitoring law allows for a 14 day period where the family may install the device without informing the facility provided they submit a special form directly to the Office of the Ombudsman of Long-Term Care.
For more information about the nature of various nursing home abuses and how to combat them, visit the National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys’ Neglect and Abuse Page.