Israel to Review Bill on Cameras in Nursing Homes

The bill, introduced by Netanyahu in his capacity as health minister, is an effort to curb abuse of nursing home residents

In an effort to reduce incidents of nursing home staff abusing residents, cameras may soon be placed in such facilities to monitor the staff’s conduct. On Sunday a Knesset committee will review the bill calling for the cameras in order to decide whether the coalition will support it to eventually becomes law.

The bill, which is being submitted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his capacity as health minister, will also allow the footage to be used as evidence in disciplinary or criminal cases against staffers who do abuse patients.

The bill would allow cameras to be stationed not only in public areas but also in patients’ rooms and even their bathrooms, assuming the health minister approves the necessary regulations. In certain cases, the minister would even be authorized to approve the installation of cameras in rooms of patients who are incapable of consenting to the move and who have no relatives give their consent. This is because experience shows that abuse often occurs in patients’ bedrooms or bathrooms.

One question not yet settled is whether the bill will allow only video recordings or also audio recordings. The problem with the latter is that they might violate the law against wiretapping. Consequently, the bill currently comes in two versions, one permitting audio recording and one forbidding it. The Knesset will eventually choose between the two.

The bill’s explanatory notes seem to favor audio recordings, saying they could help prevent physical assaults: “In many cases, verbal violence and hurtful remarks are the warning signs of later physical assaults.”

FILE PHOTO: Senior citizen at an Israeli nursing home
\ Yaron Kaminsky