The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has announced plans to install hidden cameras and ‘mystery shoppers’ in care homes in a bid to increase the regulations of social care. Care homes and social care premises are home for some of society’s most vulnerable people. To subject them to covert surveillance where there is not reasonable cause for suspicion would be both an attack on their privacy and dignity.
In a signposting document which has been published today ahead of a full public consultation, Andrea Sutcliffe, Britain’s first Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, said: “We would like to have an open conversation with people about the use of mystery shoppers and hidden cameras, and whether they would contribute to promoting a culture of safety and quality, while respecting people’s rights to privacy and dignity.”
It is important to consider the culture of care homes and whether we want them to have the same kind of atmosphere as a prison. It is of course right to investigate specific complaints, but this should not entail the routine, undisclosed surveillance of our loved ones. 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.
What must be remembered is that care homes are just that, homes. The vast majority of residents, whilst vulnerable, completely have their wits about them and should be fully consulted before any CCTV cameras are installed, especially if the cameras are to be in their private rooms. Any reforms should be focused on ensuring residents feel safe and comfortable in their home, not increasing stress through unnecessary surveillance.