The Care Quality Commission looks set to publish information to guide health and social care providers, and the general public, on the use of covert or overt surveillance to monitor care.
Over the last year, the regulator has been seeking views about the topic, following cases highlighted in the media where relatives have secretly filmed care given to their relatives.
“We know that exploring the potential use of hidden and public cameras in care homes and other care settings is a really sensitive issue”
At its latest meeting earlier this week, the CQC’s board approved in principle to draw up guidance for health and care organisations and that a separate version be written for the public in a “more accessible way”.
The regulator said it will “publish the information shortly”.
Andrea Sutcliffe, the CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care, said: “We know that exploring the potential use of hidden and public cameras in care homes and other care settings is a really sensitive issue – and one that provokes a huge range of debate and opinion.
“We have spent the past year really listening to people who are using health and social care services, their families, providers and partners on their experiences, anxieties and concerns that matter to them,” she said.
“The information we will publish for providers makes clear the issues we expect them to take into account – for example, consulting with people using the services and staff – if they are considering installing hidden or public cameras,” Ms Sutcliffe added.
“I am clear that any form of surveillance cannot be seen as the only way to ensure people are receiving safe, high-quality and compassionate care,” she said. “We need enough staff, properly trained and supported who really care to ensure people get the services they have every right to expect.”
Care and support minister Norman Lamb noted that cameras had helped to “expose terrible cruelty and neglectful care”, like that which occurred at Winterbourne View.
“Decisions about using surveillance are extremely difficult – there is always a balance to be struck between protecting people and respecting their right to privacy – but this information will help families to make the right choice for them,” he said.
A reported last month by Nursing Times, a survey of care home staff has found the majority would support the use of controversial surveillance cameras to help stamp out abuse and bad practice.
HC-One, which is the third largest care home provider in the UK, gathered the views of 7,330 members of staff, more than 3,300 relatives and just over 1,535 residents.
It found 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. Meanwhile, 63% of staff said they were in favour.