Is it Time for “Granny Cams” for your COVID Isolation Rooms?

My 10 grandchildren are all in “virtual” school for the coming year, but I do remember an advance in responsible parenting, which was applied to the care of the grandkids 10 and under.  It’s a technology that has now become standard for most parents, called “baby cams.”  This has allowed “never out-of-sight or sound” parenting on a 24/7 basis as long as this device is being used.  

During this pandemic, when so many of our residents are living behind closed doors and curtains, why are we relying on patient-activated call buttons to identify basic patient needs when we have patients who may not use this system effectively, resulting in delayed interventions and falls?  We know this is a common complication of usual care, but have not embraced “Granny Cams” as an option in our facilities.  

I know that our legal advisors have counseled against doing so for concerns about privacy, liability, and fear of citations by Licensing & Certification.  However, in this time of a COVID-19 surge when our facilities have become much more like hospitals, but with the same staffing limits of a SNF, I wonder if the benefits of real time bidirectional virtual communication that doesn’t require patient activation, would be worth piloting.  I believe some patients and families would be willing to have this added service on a trial basis.  The technology isn’t expensive and is readily available.  

I know that CDPH has not given this the “green light”, but I wonder if evidence of benefit exceeding the burden, might guide future endorsement.  From my perspective, a pilot project with informed consent from residents and their families that is submitted to the Department for a waiver seems feasible.  

I hope the benefits obtained for my grandchildren with this technology may one day be extended to nursing homes and other senior living residents who consent (surrogate if lack of decisional capacity) to such monitoring.  There seems little to lose and much to gain in utilizing this simple, readily available, and potentially lifesaving technology.

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Comments on "Is it Time for “Granny Cams” for your COVID Isolation Rooms?"

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Marcy Edelman - Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Patients in isolation with Covid-19 may demonstrate significant weight loss related to a deficit in ADL for eating, and/or a swallowing or chewing problem. It may be beneficial for monitoring isolation rooms with "granny cams" at least during meal times to better identify those patients who have difficulty eating, having food spillage, and/or are choking, coughing or aspirating while eating. Timely interventions can then be implemented for improved clinical outcomes such as weight.

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