Video monitoring in LTC facilities: How is assisted living affected?

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Marty Butler
Marty Butler

In March, Utah became the second state (after Texas) to require assisted living communities to grant resident requests to install monitoring equipment in their rooms. 

A few months earlier, Illinois joined California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington in allowing residents or families of residents in long-term care facilities to install cameras or other electronic monitoring devices in resident rooms. How do such laws affect senior living? Effects may vary by state, depending on the way in which a particular law is written, but the example of Illinois can be instructive.

Jan. 1, the Illinois Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act took effect. The act permits fixed, mounted audio and/or video devices; it expressly prohibits still photography. Currently, the act pertains only to those facilities licensed under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act (as well as intermediate facilities for the developmentally disabled and long-term care for those aged fewer than 22 years and licensed under the ID/DD Community Care Act).

As a general rule, given that a large percentage of assisted living and independent living communities are not licensed under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, they do not necessarily fall under the purview of the Electronic Monitoring Act. The exception, however: If the assisted living or independent living community is part of a larger continuing care retirement / life plan community (which has a skilled building that is licensed under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act) or if the assisted living or independent living location has a devoted wing that offers skilled nursing (which is licensed under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act), then the part of the larger entity that is licensed under the Nursing Home Care Act must comply with the provisions of the Electronic Monitoring Act.

For example, if a nursing center has a large life plan community with only one floor that has skilled nursing, then it is licensed under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. The electronic monitoring must be permitted (as long as it is executed according to the other regulations of the act) on the skilled nursing floor only.

A stipulation within the act requires facilities to post signs at all entrances to the buildings accessible to visitors, as well as the entrance of the rooms being monitored advising of the electronic monitoring devices in use. Although the required signage likely may affect the non-skilled portion of the building, that really would be the only “repercussion” for the non-skilled component of the location. Of course, in a campus-style setting where the buildings are entirely separate, the required signage would not affect the non-skilled portions at all.

In short, for true stand-alone assisted living or independent living buildings with no component at all licensed under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, no need exists — in Illinois — to worry about electronic monitoring or the provisions set forth in the act. If the building or campus has a skilled nursing wing or building that is licensed under the Nursing Home Care Act, then only that portion of the entity must comply.

It is important to note that this “trend” of legislation permitting authorized electronic monitoring within senior living communities will likely not stop with Illinois. The pendulum seems to continue to swing. As mentioned, Utah passed legislation affecting assisted living earlier this year; Missouri considered doing so as well.

Marlene “Marty” Butler is senior vice president, practice leader, for Assurance's senior living and healthcare divisions. Before joining Assurance, she held many different roles within the insurance industry, including claim-handling, underwriting, accounting, marketing, client services and sales. Butler is involved in several industry associations, including the Illinois Health Care Association, LeadingAge, the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living and Argentum. She may be reached at mbutler@assuranceagency.com.

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