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Hidden Cameras in Care Homes – Have Your Say

camerasOn Monday our acting director, Emma Carr, took part in a workshop organised by the Care Quality Commission on the topic of covert surveillance in care homes. The session was organised by Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the CQC, and she has shared her thoughts on the session which you can read here.

The workshop was part of a much wider consultation process that is currently taking place. If you would like to share your views, you can find more inforamtion on how to do so here.

There have undoubtedly been many shocking incidents in recent times of vile and inhuman abuse being inflicted on some of the most vulnerable people in our society. The abuse was able to take place due to underhand and deceitful tactics by the perpetrators, which is exactly why we at Big Brother Watch do not believe that installing CCTV on wards and in care homes is the answer. We also believe that to use covert surveillance where there is no reasonable cause for suspicion would be both an attack on residents’ privacy and dignity. It is, of course, right to investigate specific complaints, but this should not entail routine, undisclosed surveillance of the elderly and vulnerable.

CCTV indiscriminately treats everyone as a suspect, and undermines a culture of co-operation and openness. Such surveillance risks making people act dispassionately at the very time when we should be promoting more compassion. CCTV does not deal with the underlying problems and, at best, displaces abusive behaviour to somewhere out of camera range, or leads to deliberate sabotage of equipment to destroy evidence. It is all too often described as a silver bullet to problems, without any empirical evidence to support the claims, and is used as a quick fix while the fundamental issues go unresolved.

It is also unclear as to whether the CQC actually has the authorisation under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 to use covert, intrusive surveillance by installing hidden cameras. It will be interesting to see whether the CQC will be seeking this authorisation.

We believe that it is absolutely correct that any measures should be both necessary and proportionate, a balance that is essential to maintain in such a sensitive environment and where emotions are likely to run high if wrongdoing is alleged.

Posted on by Emma Carr Posted in CCTV

22 Responses to Hidden Cameras in Care Homes – Have Your Say

  1. Paul Smith

    Whilst I see the regrettable reasons for putting CCTV cameras into care homes I also v feel that doing so removes the RIGHT of privacy someone should have in there own home. In my opinion removing this RIGHT is a form of ABUSE in its own right.
    However I have no problem with fitting both overt and covert cameras into public areas such as common rooms and halls but feel putting cameras in people’s private bedrooms is something that should not be considered without oversite. Perhaps a GP should have to sign off on a covert camera installation in someone’s bedroom.

  2. Paul Smith

    P.S I am a support worker for people with a learning disability living in there own (shared) homes.

    • Steve Simpson

      Are you the same person who works for Pegasus Care?

  3. Colin Waldron

    Hidden cctv cameras in Care Homes is against all freedoms that are the birthright of free citizens in a free society.Someone watching a personal action in a bedroom on a monitor in a secret room or building is itself an abuse.Unfortunately there will always be someone who will commit acts of abuse on vulnerable persons regardless of covert surveillance.Listening,with an `open` mind,to an abused person,would be more beneficial to both parties.CCTV is not the answer

    • James Wright

      How do you listen to someone that can’t express themselves because of loss understanding due to say Alzheimer’s for example?

  4. SurveillanceWorld

    My partner’s mother and my own mother are both in the same nursing home therefore I am a frequent visitor to the establishment. If I thought for one second that there were cameras, secret or otherwise, in the place I would transfer both ladies to another home. The very idea of living under surveillance in what is effectively now their home is completely unacceptable.

    • viv collins

      All nursing homes should have CCTV cameras installed. We are awaiting an inquest into my mothers passing from a care home.We want to know what happened the night she was attacked by another resident and ended up in hospital.If there had been cameras , we WOULD know.Instead we are going through terrible stress not knowing how or why.Dont you owe that to your relatives???

  5. Zoe Harris

    The idea that cameras might be fitted in people’s private rooms fills me with horror, and I believe it focuses attention on the wrong things. We should be finding ways to recognise and reward good care. I caught my husband’s abusers with audio recording, and I believe this method has a role to play, not to catch bad care, but as a way of identifying and rewarding good care, and as a training tool to help carers improve. I have written a blog about this: http://wp.me/p40U0U-k

  6. primrose

    I suffered daily at hands of carers and keep wrttern dairy of years of care companies employees, causing me to fail, verbal abuse, I’ll treatment, as its my word against thier employees, company management side swith own carers , even I changed companies, my ferind put own cctv only in parts ofvmy home, where the sealing aslo takes place, not in my bedroom. I need this more now, as I suffred disability hate crimes by, carers, as they two each vist 18 amwk not all same, I daily going though hell, I’m well come cctv in my home, not in bathroom or bedroom, to protect me from harm, as again two carers against me, if I had the funds I have more cctv wireless set up, and if carers had nothing to hide, then, should be no worries, they can sign consent from , if needed, I not for unlawfully hiddern in care homes in prvite rooms,unless thier clear policy states very private body area not onncctv wh3n personal care carried out wh3n undressed, must be a line drawn,

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  8. Anon

    To use covert surveillance in the homes of people who might be elderly and vulnerable is to stoop to the level of those who abuse people in their care.

    There must be better ways of care homes monitoring the care they are delivering to residents without spying on them. This is a message to us all that the care profession is not able to supervise and monitor staff effectively to ensure residents are given quality care that respects them and maintains their dignity. What a sad world we live in.

    Covert surveillance is not the way forward. Many people worry about losing their dignity in old age and to use covert surveillance will give rise to greater worry and fear of loss of dignity.

    • James Wright

      What a ridiculous answer, because I used a covert camera in my mother’s room and cought the abuses therefore I’m as bad as the people that stole, teased, neglected, swore, grabbed by the throat and punched my mother, god help us.

      • James Wright

        What a ridiculous answer, because I used a covert camera in my mother’s room and caught the abuses therefore I’m as bad as the people that stole, teased, neglected, swore, grabbed by the throat and punched my mother, god help us.
        The fact is we do live in a sad world and there is nothing like being physically or sexually abused such a the recent case of an elderly lady to make you feel less dignity!

        It’s about giving people choice, the right to choose not taking their rights away.

  9. matwatson

    I work in a care home in st helens merseyside, You need to do something to protect the residents and at time staff to because people will just keep quiet about what they see because of the trouble it will cause them.I have seen things happen and have seen the standard of facility,s provided by the home really bad.We once had a CQC visit and was told to watch what we said to them and that our jobs could be at risk. We are frightened to .I do think cameras will stop abuse.but you should be able to report thing to higher managers or independent people with out comebacks.

  10. James Wright

    My mother Gladys Wright, recently deceased, has just been in the media after I’d recorded her being abused. This abuse would never have been discovered if it were not for the use of my covert filming. I went through hell watching this footage, I don’t mean just because of the abuse, but also because of the condition, mum would scream and shout and cry most of the time, I really felt like I was going to have a breakdown watching it all the time, but felt compelled to continue to watch it to make sure she was being looked after the way she and everyone deserves. I would watch this footage after spending hours with my mother at the care home, every day I visited, as one should, and when I got home I had to watch the footage. I wish this would not have been necessary, I wish someone else could have done this for me. I would also hope there would be less need for people to watch because of fear by the abusers of being caught by preinstalled CCTV placed there by management. If the thought by some carers of being filmed could partly be a deterrent then I believe it should be employed. CCTV is obviously not completely the answer but is definitely a part of it, in my view, a big part. Firstly carers should be valued for the extremely difficult and stressful work they do, this should be reflected in their pay, better pay would mean more applicants therefor the care provider can be more selective, able to cherry pick if you like. Care providers need to invest in staff training, so staff can understand the mental conditions of the residents a lack of understanding of Alzheimer’s, I believe partly led to my mother being abused, carers took her challenging behaviour personally rather than understanding the reason for it, I found it very hard on occasion, not to take it personally myself and I’m her son. I believe the use of CCTV will be a deterrent and also provide evidence when needed. CCTV footage would also be used for the benefit of employees such as when false accusation are made, this often happens of course, hallucinations being quite possible as one the many symptoms of this terrible disease.

    I used to work for Royal Mail and we were surrounded by cameras to protect the mail, didn’t bother me, why should CCTV bother carers. The choice of CCTV being used should be down to the individual when possible and next of kin when not. I believe when an individual is first diagnosed with a debilitating conditions such as Alzheimer’s they should be required to complete a form regarding their future personal needs and consent for the possible use of CCTV in their rooms. I think as a standard CCTV should be used in care homes, such as in lounges, common rooms and so on. My mother and other residents were left in the lounge unattended with other residents that could be a physical danger to themselves and others, I’d witnessed this on numerous occasions, residents can of course also fall and not be discovered for a long period of time, carers were often absent due to lack of staff. What about resident’s dignity? I’m afraid we lose dignity, in one sense of the word, when we need others for personal care. We don’t have automatons performing personal care and so the answer to the question of a more extreme loss of dignity during personal care while being watched on camera does not stand up in my view. When personal care takes place the same people do not do it day in and day out, strangers are often performing the personal care, agency staff for instance. Agency staff may work in a care home one night and not be there again, these are strangers performing personal care, so where is the dignity there? I am no expert but I believe this should be discussed at a higher level, discussed by people who are authorities on security, human rights etc.

    I myself am doing my best to promote the discussion of CCTV in care homes by supporting ‘Your Voice Matters’ who have an online petition on Facebook. I am currently going door to door and to events to get people to sign a petition so the question can possibly be raised in parliament I mention this to demonstrate how serious I am about this subject.
    Before people ask the question: why I didn’t look after my mother myself if I was so suspicious of care homes? I will answer with the fact that I and many others do not have a choice regarding caring for our loved ones at home. The authorities can and did take away the choice, which is usually done for the good of the person in need of care or the carer or for both.
    I also want to add, sorry if I sounded self-righteous when I was describing going in to see my mum and then watching the CCTV, I was trying to indicate the stress when watching but also the need I felt to do so, because I couldn’t look after her myself the next best thing was to make sure others were looking after her.

    • Valerie Wheatley

      Hello James, I agree with every word you wrote and was about to start a petition to lobby Government to make it law to have cameras in homes for the vulnerable in an opt out basis. My mother has dementia and after two years of struggling to care for her myself, I became ill and found a care home that had excellent cqc report etc. five months in and she started saying people were shaking her and being cruel, I mentioned it immediately to management by formal report. Because we couldn’t identify the Carers or exact date the manager said nothing could be done. Mum lost over a stone and wet the bed every night and was afraid of the Carers. I instigated a full service safeguarding investigation. I showed the manager in the care plan that day where these Carers had even admitted leaving mum in her chair all night after she wet the bed because they didn’t remake the bed after stripping it. Once, even her chair was wet through . The Carers were then immediately suspended but the manager told me it was for something else very serious not to do with my complaint but they refused to say what. Both staff have now left, Mum has put the weight back on and hardly wets the bed. The manager is still there and all staff being trained. Safeguarding say they can neither prove nor disprove what happened to Mum but I am disputing that as the care plan record shows it. A camera would have proved it. I don’t understand these misguided people who feel having cameras is abuse in itself – how ridiculous. If their loved one had no voice and was at the mercy of potential a users they may feel differently or at least once it is law, have the opportunity to opt out. We have them in all walks of life, I worked for the police and we had them in custody department to protect both staff and prisoner the same in prisons. We have CCTV watching our streets and in business premises such as banks. I wish these conciencous objectors would also offer ideas to protect the vulnerable. I am 100% behind any lobby you have, please say if I can do anything

  11. James Wright

    The three carers were charged on the 20th of June 2014 at Bristol Crown Court. The manager of the home Jeremy Nixey stated that the individuals were already on his radar. This means he had little evidence to dismiss and so they were left to work at The Granary care home and abuse my mother and maybe other residents. He stated that he can rely on whistle blowers and that should be enough without the use of CCTV, yet the only occasion these carers could be dismissed and then charged with a crime was at the point of the footage being handed to police, therefore the camera obviously performed a service and Jeremy Nixey’s argument is lost, strange for an educated and intelligent man, must be driven by something more than the need to be logical, Mammon.

  12. George Valentine

    EVERY PERSON WHO SUSPECTS OR WITNESSES SERIOUS ABUSE OF VULNERABLE PEOPLE IN CARE BE IT CONSULTANTS,DOCTORS,NURSES,CARERS OR FAMILY MEMBERS SHOULD VIEW MY DVD JUST ENTER “ADVICE FOR WHISTLE-BLOWERS ON YOU TUBE” IN 6 WEEKS IT HAS HAD HUNDREDS OF HITS IT IS JUST OVER 14 MINUTES LONG. I AM GEORGE VALENTINE FOR 30 YEARS A CAMPAIGNER FOR THE DISABLED AND A FOUNDATION TRUST GOVERNOR FOR LEARNING DIFFICULTIES.I FULLY SUPPORT JAMES WRIGHT.I ADVISED STAFF AND FAMILY CARERS TO EITHER FILM THE SERIOUS ABUSE THAT IS A CRIMINAL OFFENCE THAT COULD VIOLATE ARTICLE 8 OF THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS. THOSE ABUSERS ARE CRIMINALS.SOME WHO I ADVISED PUT HIDDEN CAMERAS IN THE ROOMS.WITH THAT EVIDENCE THEY HAVE A CHOICE OF REPORTING IT OR TAKING YOUR EVIDENCE STRAIGHT TO THE POLICE WHO WILL ACT ON IT. FOUNDATION TRUSTS AND THE C Q C HAVE THE POWERS TO USE SELECTIVE CCTV HIDDEN CAMERAS BUT DON’T USE THEM THIS IS MUSIC IN THE EARS OF THE ABUSERS.I ADVISE SELECTIVE CCTV ONLY TO BE USED WHEN YOU WITNESS OR SUSPECT SERIOUS ABUSE. TWICE I ADVISED STAFF AND CARERS TO GO TO PANORAMA ON TWO OCCASIONS AND WE KNOW WHAT HAPPENED THEY USED HIDDEN CAMERAS THAT RESULTED IN THE ABUSERS NOT ONLY LOSING THEIR JOBS BUT THEIR LIBERTY. PANORAMA DID WHAT THE CQC AND THE TRUSTS SHOULD HAVE DONE. WITHOUT CAMERA EVIDENCE THE CQC’S WAY TAKES YEARS TO GET A CONVICTION MY WAY AND PANORAMAS WAY USING HIDDEN CAMERAS GETS IMMEDIATE RESULTS AS THE EVIDENCE CAN STAND UP IN A COURT OF LAW. PEOPLE WHO HAVE USED HIDDEN CAMERAS GET RESULTS AND CONVICTIONS. THAT THEY WOULD NEVER GET WITHOUT SELECTIVE C Q C. LOOK AT THE DVD ON YOU TUBE THEN YOU CAN PLAN YOUR NEXT MOVE.

  13. George Valentine

    SINCE MY 15 MINUTE DVD ADVICE FOR WHISTLE-BLOWERS ON YOU TUBE WAS RECORDED ON THE 12TH JUNE 2014 STAFF AND RELATIVES OF VULNERABLE PATIENTS ARE NOT ONLY CONSIDERING BUT USING CAMERA EVIDENCE TO PROVE SERIOUS ABUSE HAS OCCURRED. THEY LIKE US ARE WORRIED THAT FOLLOWING THE SERIOUS ABUSE HIGHLIGHTED BY PANORAMA THAT SECRETLY FILMED THE ABUSE RESULTING IN THE ABUSERS NOT ONLY LOSING THEIR JOBS BUT THEIR LIBERTY LESSONS HAVE NOT BEEN LEARNED THE C Q C AFTER HOLDING CONSULTATION WILL STILL ONLY USE HIDDEN CAMERAS AS A LAST RESORT THIS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH SO MY ADVICE IS FILM THE SERIOUS ABUSE THIS WILL GET RESULTS AND QUICKLY I AM PROUD OF STAFF AND RELATIVES FOR TAKING THIS ACTION PANORAMA’S WAY AND MY WAY IS THE WAY FORWARD

  14. sarah canning

    if you have nothing to hide why worry?

  15. dave

    could anyone tell me if my wife is allowed to be with her mother during personal care as the care home have banned her as she wasnt happy with the way she was being cleaned and complained. the care home said it is for dignity of the patient ,yet previous management had no problems, her mum is unable to talk,is peg fed ,double incontinent and unable to move her right hand side.thus is very vulnerable. thanks

  16. Jean

    my son is in a care home and if it wasn’t for my own ill health, he would still be here with us. He cannot talk or express concern and there is no way we would know if he had been ill treated. I would welcome cameras with open arms to be sure he is being cared for kindly, considerately and properly. Only wish I knew how to do them. As long as the film is only seen by family, to safeguard dignity, then there is no other reason they should not be allowed.

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