Shanley legislation would allow nursing home residents to electronically monitor their rooms


STATE HOUSE — Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick, East Greenwich), has introduced a bill that would allow nursing home residents to install cameras in their rooms.

The legislation (2023-H 5355) would allow for the use of electronic monitoring of a resident’s room or private living unit within a nursing home or assisted living facility, provided that the resident, as well as the resident’s roommate, consent to such electronic monitoring in writing.

“As Rhode Island’s policy makers focus on more person-centered, high quality, long-term care services, it is imperative that we ensure that nursing home residents are treated well on a day-to-day basis,” said Representative Shanley. “This legislation would provide family with peace of mind regarding the care of their loved ones, and help to resolve disputes regarding suspected abuse and neglect.

Specifically, the legislation would allow nursing home residents, or their representatives, to electronically monitor their own rooms, provided that their consent and notice has been given to the facility on prescribed forms. The resident must also obtain the consent of any and all roommates and bear all costs of purchase, installation, maintenance, and removal. The facility would be required to post signs at the entrance of the building that read, “Electronic monitoring devices, including security cameras and audio devices, may be present to record persons and activities.”

More than 31% of Rhode Islanders are age 55 or older, versus 28% nationally, and the state has the highest proportion of individuals age 85 or older in the United States, according to a report from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

“Given this reality, coupled with the fact that the number of substantiated elder abuse cases in Rhode Island increased by more than 34 percent between 2015 and 2019, means that this issue is of paramount importance,” said Representative Shanley. “In recent years we’ve strengthened our elder abuse and elder financial exploitation laws. This bill is the next step in ensuring a safe and secure environment for those living in long-term care facilities.”

Under the proposed legislation, the facility would be unable to access any video or audio recording without consent of the resident or their legal representative. The bill provides that any person or entity that obstructs or destroys a device would be guilty of a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of not more than $500.

The bill, which is cosponsored by Representatives Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown), Matthew S. Dawson (D- Dist. 65, East Providence), Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) and William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence), has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.