The Rise Of CCTV In Monitoring Care

3rd August 2018

The Rise Of CCTV In Monitoring Care

People who receive care in their own homes, or in a residential or nursing care facility are often very vulnerable. Some people are taking steps to monitor their loved one’s care by using hidden cameras. In this week’s blog, Ann Gamble, a service user and member of the PCC’s Membership Scheme speaks of the need to have a sensible discussion around the use of CCTV and hidden cameras in the monitoring of people’s care.

Last week we heard news of abuse happening at a residential psychiatric facility in Muckamore Abbey Hospital.  Whilst the investigation into these incidents is ongoing, I feel it would be unfair to comment on it, but it does open up the debate around the use of cameras in monitoring care.  Much of what has happened in Muckamore has only been discovered because staff have been reviewing recorded footage from their CCTV system.

Oftentimes it can be very difficult to prove if abuse has occurred without witnesses or video footage.  This can be made all the more difficult when it involves vulnerable patients who are either incapable of speaking out, or too scared to. This means abuse can go on for long periods of time undetected.

In January this year news broke of a care worker caught on camera abusing an elderly woman she was supposed to be caring for in Northamptonshire.  Gina Owen had installed a hidden camera in her mother’s living room after she suspected her care worker was not caring for her mum properly.  What she discovered was heart-breaking.  Rather than just seeing a poor standard of care, Gina witnessed the carer hitting and verbally insulting her mother.  Had she not used the hidden camera, it is possible this abuse may never have been found out.

Advancing technology has meant that small, discrete video cameras are widely available and affordable.  This has given rise to more and more people using them to monitor the care a loved one is receiving, both in their own homes and in residential or nursing homes.  In response to this the Care Quality Commission in England produced an information leaflet back in 2015 to give people advice and information on the use of hidden cameras.  But should it be left up to families or friends to take this course of action?  Who looks out for those in our society who don’t have anyone else to support them?

There is a strong need to respect people’s privacy, particularly as many of these facilities are, for all intents and purposes, people’s homes.  Some of us might not like the idea of cameras in our house watching our every move 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but what if it helped ensure your safety?  It poses an important question; does the need to ensure residents’ wellbeing and safety have greater importance than their right to privacy and dignity?

If you were a vulnerable resident in a care facility, would you want a camera monitoring you in your bedroom or bathroom?  What about if cameras were just in the communal areas – do you think that would provide adequate protection?  Would you feel reassured in the knowledge the system was in place with the intention of keeping you safe, or would you feel it was an invasion of your privacy?  Would you worry that people were listening in to your conversations or monitoring your daily habits?  Should only relatives be able to view CCTV footage recorded in their loved one’s bedroom to ensure they are safe and being cared for appropriately?

These are really important questions that everyone should think about and I think it is vital that we have a sensible discussion around this controversial topic.

How do you feel about cameras being used to monitor care?  Would you be concerned about your privacy?  Do you feel there are other less invasive ways to help prevent abuse?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below!