“I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me” – The Good and Bad of Using Nanny Cams

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“I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me” – The Good and Bad of Using Nanny Cams

As the Guardian of incapacitated adults, we are often charged with the care, custody and control of every aspect of the client’s life.

Simultaneously, we must continually balance many polar-opposite standards – the stated wishes of the client, versus what is in their best interest; the substituted judgment standard; budget constraints; safety, ethical, and family issues; and more. The list goes on and on with dozens of spinning plates of decisions, choices and standards that we tip-toe between for each client, 24/7, 365 days a year.

So where does the at-home Nanny Cam idea fit in?

For example, take a client who has always been a “homebody,” a widow with no known family or social connections who has pets, sufficient assets (but not overly wealthy) and who does well at home with daytime agency caregivers. She wants to have her privacy and peace to be alone in her own home and in her own bed, so when the sun goes down, she sends the caregivers (who she perceives as “visitors”) out the door.

This example is the actual profile of a client who we decided would be a good fit for the use of a Nanny Cam. The solution had multiple, motion-activated cameras setup around the general living space of her home and at each exterior door. It was internet accessible for us to “check in” on her. For privacy, cameras were not pointed into the bathroom or bedroom.

Here are some of the lessons we learned by using a Nanny Cam with this client.

The Good

We were able to determine what her normal, unsupervised patterns were, allowing us to learn more about her. We got to know about her common sleep pattern, how often she went to the bathroom, her late night snacking habits and if she opened the exterior doors when home alone (and why).

The Nanny Cams, along with a door alarm connected to our on-call phone, also allowed us to quickly deal with a sudden change in her behavior when she wandered out of her front door one night around midnight.

The Bad

Since we used motion activated cameras, her cats turned the cameras on often. We became obsessed with having the view up on our computer screens, and found ourselves watching all the time, worried that we might miss some important real-time event.

Then there was the cost of the equipment. Beyond the camera and installation cost, the system required ongoing management, legal petitions and orders processes, and our time to watch recorded or real-time footage.

To date, this was one of the only clients we had used the Nanny Cams with. While it was effective for this client for a long time and allowed her to remain at home until it was no longer safe and in line with her wishes, it did not seem to fit many other clients.




00a7e40This blog is shared by Theresa Barton, the expert behind The Guardian Network with more than 25 years of experience in the field of Elder Advocacy, Care Management and Guardianship. Learn more about Theresa’s work and resources for families, caregivers and health, support and legal professionals here.




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