Guidance for the public on the use of cameras to record instances of poor care or abuse in care homes has been published by the Care quality Commission.
The regulator today published information to help people make “appropriate decisions” on the use of hidden cameras, or any type of recording equipment, to monitor care.
The CQC guide neither recommends nor rejects the use of cameras, covertly or in public, but notes that it is a “hugely controversial subject”.
Over the last year, the regulator has been seeking views about the topic and was told that information from the regulator would be helpful.
It follows examples of poor care and abuse being exposed in the media after relatives or staff covertly recorded incidents, such as those which took place at Winterbourne View.
“For some, cameras or other forms of surveillance, whether openly used by services or hidden by families, are the answer”
The CQC published information for providers in December, setting out steps they needed to take into account when using open or hidden surveillance and has followed it up today with information for the public.
“Installing a hidden camera or other recording equipment is a big step, and a decision for people and families to make,” the CQC’s guide states.
“On the one hand, it might set your mind at ease about any concerns you may have. Or it might help you to identify poor care or abuse. However, you should think about how it may intrude on other people’s privacy, including other people who use the service, staff, families and visiting professionals,” it adds.
Andrea Sutcliffe, the CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care, said: “We all want people using health and social care services to receive safe, effective, high quality and compassionate care.
“Sadly, we know that does not always happen and the anxiety and distress this causes people, either for themselves or a loved one, is simply awful,” she said.
“For some, cameras or other forms of surveillance, whether openly used by services or hidden by families, are the answer. Others feel this is an invasion of people’s privacy and dignity. Many don’t know what to do if they are concerned,” she added.
In November, a survey of care home staff found the majority would support the use of cameras to help stamp out abuse and bad practice.
“Cameras have helped to expose terrible cruelty and neglectful care and I welcome this new advice”
Care home provider HC-One gathered the views of 7,330 members of staff, 3,300 relatives and 1,535 residents. It found 63% of staff said they were in favour. Meanwhile,87% of relatives would like one in their loved one’s room, but just 47% of residents wanted the same, citing privacy as a key concern.
Gavin Terry, policy manager at Alzheimer’s Society, noted that the use of hidden cameras was a “complex matter” and “should only be a last resort”
“If the person with dementia is unable to consent, any surveillance must be made with their best interests at heart, and be carried out in the least restrictive way possible as it is could compromise their privacy, dignity and basic human rights,” he said.
Care and support minister Norman Lamb said: “Cameras have helped to expose terrible cruelty and neglectful care and I welcome this new advice.”