Can You Install a Video Camera in a Senior’s CHSLD Room?

Legal News

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, some seniors living in residential and long-term care centers (CHSLDs) have suffered mistreatment, neglect, or abuse. Many family members have felt isolated from their loved ones. Did you know that the law allows family members to install a video camera in their loved one’s room? There are certain rules that must be respected though. The CHSLD must inform residents or family members about the rules and provide support to respect them. These rules apply to all CHSLDs, both public and private.

“Granny Cams”: Allowed in Quebec to Prevent Mistreatment of Seniors

It has recently come to the public’s attention that some seniors have not received adequate care. However, because of restrictions on access to CHSLDs intended to slow the spread of COVID-19, family members are unable to check up on the quality of care that their loved ones are receiving. Video cameras could offer a solution.

Since March 2018, Quebec law has allowed family members to put a video camera in a senior’s room. These surveillance cameras are sometimes called “granny cams” because they are small and hidden, but a tablet, smart phone, or similar device in plain view is also allowed. The purpose of these cameras is to ensure the safety of seniors and their property as well as to prevent mistreatment of seniors by CHSLD staff.

The main rules for video cameras are:

  • The camera must not be used continuously unless there is a good reason, such as to detect abuse at a random or usual time of day.
  • The camera must not record sound or images unless there is a good reason, such as to prove an incident of abuse. Any recordings made must not be kept, unless necessary.
  • Privacy rights must be respected. In shared rooms, other residents must give their consent. Cameras must not capture images or sounds of other residents, from a washroom, or outside the resident’s own room.
  • Signs must be posted about the possible presence of video cameras, but they must not indicate where the cameras are positioned.
  • The installation of the camera must not entail costs for the CHSLD, unless the CHSLD agrees to those costs.

Additional rules apply. See the Quebec government’s leaflet on Use of Monitoring Mechanisms by Residents in Residential and Long-Term Care Centers (CHSLDs).

Using a Video Camera to Communicate with Your Loved One in Real Time

Since the COVID-19 crisis, many seniors have felt isolated from their family members because of restrictions on who may enter a CHSLD.

The law allowing video cameras in CHSLDs is intended only to ensure safety and prevent mistreatment. It is not intended to facilitate real-time communication with a loved one.

However, judges have decided that a video camera may also be used solely to see a resident, to stay in touch, or to get news from a resident. Because residents’ rooms are their “homes”, using a camera to stay in touch with loved ones is allowed, especially when family members are far away. Residents have a right to the presence of family members in their home, including by virtual means.

Every CHSLD must set up a committee to inform residents of their rights, defend their interests, and try to improve the quality of services. You can ask the director of the CHSLD for the contact information for the committee.