A Missouri law set to take effect in August allows assisted living community residents to install visible electronic monitoring devices in their rooms, allowing families a window into their loved ones’ care. The law applies to other facility types as well.

Gov. Mike Parsons signed the “Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act” on Tuesday, allowing residents of residential care facilities, assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities and skilled nursing facilities in the state to install equipment owned and operated by the resident or legal guardian in their rooms.

LeadingAge Missouri CEO William B. Bates said the new law “resolves five years of legislative debate on challenging issues for long-term care residents, families and facilities surrounding resident room electronic monitoring.”

“We think the law thoughtfully and reasonably balances legitimate expectations, concerns and needs of long-term care residents and their loved ones with legitimate challenges, concerns and interests of long-term care communities and their caregivers,” Bates told McKnight’s Senior Living. “Compromise has delivered a good result for long-term care in Missouri.”

Missouri Assisted Living Association Executive Director Keith Sappington called the bill a “win-win.”

“It accomplishes what our residents and their families wanted, by allowing them to install cameras in their rooms, and at the same time strikes a balance by also protecting facilities from frivolous lawsuits when certain guidelines are not followed when cameras are placed in rooms,” Sappington told McKnight’s Senior Living.

The plan allows families to monitor a loved one’s care remotely, requires consent from roommates, bans the use of hidden monitoring devices and requires signage indicating electronic monitoring devices are being used in a room. Recordings cannot be released, except in cases of abuse or neglect, without permission of the resident or guardian and the long-term care facility.

The law follows similar bills introduced in 2016 and 2017 that did not move through the committee process. 

“After working on this legislation for the last two years, it is gratifying that families can now monitor the care of their loved ones while in one of these facilities,” Rep. Jim Murphy (R-St. Louis) posted on his Facebook page. “With the COVID-19 lockdown, transparency and the ability to communicate with LTCF patients has never been more important.”

Backers say the measure will prevent abuse and neglect and will aid investigations into abuse at long-term care facilities.

At least five states — Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Utah — have laws mandating that assisted living communities accommodate resident requests to install electronic monitoring equipment in their rooms. New Jersey also has a “Safe Care Cam” program that loans micro-surveillance equipment to healthcare consumers, including families of assisted living and nursing home residents. 

At least five states — Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas and Washington — have “granny cam” laws that apply to nursing homes.