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RCN members oppose covert filming in care homes


Members of the Royal College of Nursing have voted to oppose the use of covert video and audio surveillance in care homes.

The abuse at Winterbourne View was revealed via covert filming and last year a care home operator carried out a consultation on its widespread adoption.

The issue was discussed today at the RCN’s annual conference in Bournemouth.

After a complex debate involving many speakers, almost 80% of RCN members voted in favour of a resolution put forward by its Suffolk branch. However, 21% voted against.

Gill Cooksey, from the RCN’s Suffolk branch, had urged members to vote for their motion on covert filming.

The branch said that surveillance on its own “would not stop abuse”, but should be considered alongside other measures, such as staff recruitment.

It also questioned whether surveillance would catch abuse, as there were ways of getting round it, and that it might lead to “complacency”. 


The resolution:

That this meeting of RCN congress urges council to oppose the use of covert video and audio surveillance and recording in nursing and residential homes.


This view was supported by Susan Goodman from the RCN’s Plymouth branch.

She suggested that using filming might encourage managers to do less actual monitoring of care standards, because they think they can look at the films later.

But Iain McGregor, from the RCN’s Old People’s Forum, highlighted the complexities of the issue of covert filming.

He said he had originally thought he would support the motion when he first read it but had subsequently decided that it was a complicated debate with both advantages and disadvantages.

Congress chair Stuart McKenzie highlighted that covert filming was a “contentious issue” and “emotive subject”, adding that he had arguments for and against the idea.


Results of vote on urging opposition to covert filming in care homes are:

For – 79.52%

Against – 20.48%

Abstain – 0%


Readers' comments (35)

  • Matthew  Carr

    In order to have the managers keep up standards have the CCTV locked up and only accessible in the event of a reported incident at which point both a Manager and senior carer would be required to access the recordings. Would also increase acceptance of monitoring if it means the only time it can be viewed is when there is an incident increasing trust that they're not being spied on and providing privacy.

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  • michael stone

    The CQC has published a piece, which points out that a relative might set up covert filming, if the relative considers it is in the 'best interests' of the resident.

    There are two issues with this question: the 'covert filming' itself, and who is doing it (management or 'service user'). If you think a care home is 'abusing' a loved-one of yours, then from the perspective of a relative I am inclined to accept covert filming 'as a last resort'.

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  • In all the years I have worked in Nursing Homes I have never known the RCN to give a damn or come with any constructive ideas to improve the Nurse Management in Nursing Homes.
    With all the trouble in the NHS at the moment perhaps the RCN could concentrate on these and maybe encourage the NHS management to install them.
    To all the people who condemn this idea why did you not condemn it when the BBC introduced it, why is it only bad now? Come up with better ideas ,then we might listen to you.
    Bye the way unlike the BBC these cameras are only to be seen by the Senior Management (including the Nurse on Duty) not the General Public, surely these same people have access both visual and audio at anytime by simply walking around the premises and in fact these regular inspections are encourage by the CQC and the area health authorities when they were in charge, I really do not understand what the fuss is about, maybe there is something I am missing here I wonder if there is some thing not logical about all this ?

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  • Matthew  Carr

    Its age old paranoia and mistrust... good people believe they're being targeted because they think they're hot doggie doo. Fact is no-one is less bothered if you do a good job... It's people like Victorino Chua who need to be caught.

    TBH I've worked under CCTV at the home office, rigging, retail and barwork... didn't effect me in the slightest. One time it even vindicated me when I was accused of stealing from the till and CCTV later showed that one of the managers had been dipping in.

    You only have to fear CCTV if you're doing something wrong.

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  • Would anyone now seriously suggest that police interviews with suspects should not be recorded? Yet when the Police and Criminal Evidence Act was being considered it was hugely opposed by police representatives. The sealed recordings are an insurance for all parties that what happens during an interview is open to inspection and not a matter of one person's word against another. Camera and sound recordings in care situations can provide much needed protection for all.

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  • I think Matthew Carr has a handle on it. CCTV should be mandatory in all care situations for the elderly and also in care situations for children - two areas of care where the patient/client doesn't have the ability (most times) to speak up for themselves.
    If you are doing nothing wrong, why would you worry ? In fact, like Matthew states, it could even end up being of assistance to you.
    I have known this to be the case twice in the last 8 years.
    IN 2015 it should be just part of everyday living.

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  • To Matthew Carr. People should listen to you. Your statement is so correct: if you don't have anything to fear or are not doing anything wrong…why worry about it. It could, like in your case, be very helpful.

    People like Chua need to be found out that's for sure, but so do a lot of other people.

    I am all for CCTV and in fact I believe it should be mandatory in all elderly care places and also in children's hospital rooms and child care situations. Why not.

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  • As a nursing home owner I'm glad the RCN opposes covert filming: I'm fearful that some pencil-pusher somewhere will deem it "required" and we'll have to install a BRUTALLY expensive system, naturally without any increase in fees from Social Services to cover it.

    We also agree that such surveillance would not reduce the potential for abuse of patients. We've never had a single such incident ourselves because we manage our home properly.

    Furthermore, I'd suggest that the current CQC inspection system fails miserably in identifying the poor management that can allow such incidents of abuse to occur. If energy, time and money is to be directed at reducing the problem, I'd suggest starting at the CQC.

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  • Anon 5:42. Really? Would not reduce the potential? And whose this We? You and some pen pushers? You say there have been no incidents... I'm fairly sure there have been. No where is perfect... might think you are but I'm sure that there have been things brushed under the carpets.

    And without investigating... how do you know where the problem areas are? Just blanket cover all issues? Isn't that a waste of money and time? Better off finding out if issues are with nutrition or pressure sore management.

    I've heard stories about how a patient has been refusing liquids or doing this and that... talk to the patient, they're dehydrated and adamant they're the victim. This is where CCTV comes in to find out who is right... has the patient been sat in the day room for 3 hours without a drink or did they just get up and have been messing the carers around?

    But I'm worried Anon 5:42, you seem a bit complacent there. Then again you fly a desk like most of the upper management who think that their poop doesn't stink and it's everyone else who has to buck up their ideas. I'll bet even after 3 days of CCTV in your home you'll find an instance of abuse or neglect in care. It happens... the idea is to reduce it by Identifying where and when it occurs. (Or even who)

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  • 2:57pm - you seem angry about something. For your info, "we" is my family - two generations of caring, so we know a thing or two about what "good" looks like.

    My point (that you seem to have missed altogether) is that the CQC is supposed to "protect" the public (patients) through their inspection system. The problem is that they clearly don't - abuse still occurs. CCTV won't make a jot of difference.

    Complacent? No - right on top of things, 24/7, I can assure you. Nevertheless, the CQC still only gave us a "good" rather than an "excellent" on our last inspection - they found a box that someone had forgotten to tick.

    Your venom is ugly, my friend, and misdirected.

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