Once again, the issue of abuse in care homes is in the headlines. The regulator CQC has published information to assist people in making decisions about using hidden cameras or other surveillance equipment to monitor a person’s care. This is a very, very serious matter indeed.

Of course, vulnerable people’s safety is one of our top priorities. Any care provider should always have robust safeguarding procedures in place and be ready to act immediately if there is any concern that someone is being abused by whatever form of abuse. One would hope that residents and relatives would feel that they were able to trust their care provider enough, to be able to discuss and or raise any concerns with them in the first instance.

The idea that someone would want to install a camera is worrying. I would urge them to consider the implications for their loved one whom they are trying to protect and perhaps look to exposing their concern and to get to grip with the root cause of the concern.

If speaking to the provider is not the preferred option, CQC encourages people to contact them if they are worried about the standard of care. Alternatively, there is the local authority’s safeguarding team if they have urgent concerns, or the police if they believe a crime has been committed. The current climate of increased incidents of abuse being made public and the need for a camera be at the forefront of people’s minds has led to many enquiries to CQC. In response to that demand, CQC decided to make public their advice to people who are considering installing hidden cameras or use recording devices.

Anyone who does plan to install a camera should think very long and hard about protecting the resident in the process, and should consider the following:

1. It is imperative by law that the resident gives their consent for a camera to be fixed in their room.

2. What will be done with the footage?

3.How can the footage be kept safe from exploitation?

4.Many people enter care homes, including other members of the public, health professionals and children – how can you be sure of safeguarding their privacy?

5.The camera will not switch off during periods of the resident’s undress; this raises issues around the protection of their privacy and dignity!

In an ideal world, there would be no risk of vulnerable people being abused in care homes. Sadly, ours is not an ideal world, as we have been reminded too many times. If relatives have cause for concern about their loved ones’ care, then people’s safety, privacy and dignity must be the key concerns at all times. Residents deserve nothing less.

You can read CQC’s full publication here.

Annie Webber

Director of Quality

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