Last year, families were given the green light to put hidden cameras in care homes if they fear a relative is being neglected or abused. Further the CQC has now published advice for care providers on using surveillance.

It’s an issue that is highly charged with emotion and fraught with controversy that gets aired every time we hear new accounts of neglect and abuse. Older people and their families are right to expect that they will be safe and well served in a facility that is deemed to ‘care’ for them.  The fact that it continues to happen in the 21st century is one of the many reasons we believe that institutional residential care should be abolished.

But in the absence of abolition, is covert surveillance the answer or will CCTV drive abuse underground?  In addition, will the legal requirements for recording, storage and reviewing recordings be so onerous that it becomes unworkable?

Leadership and culture is critical. If there is evidence of abuse or neglect then there are deeper issues at play in the organisation that need to be addressed.  Installing a camera is a Band-Aid fix in this instance and won’t drive the systemic change needed. Developing, rewarding and valuing staff is the only realistic way to create caring and meaningful relationships with those they care for. It is all about TRUST.

We fundamentally believe camera installation is a decision that must be made with the knowledge and agreement of the resident. We can assume they will expect to retain privacy and control over their lives but we need to ask them what they really want as ultimately it is their home.

Above all its about people and trust. We must all work harder to create the kind of environment where older people and their carers can flourish.

 

Sara McKee