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12th December 2014

Surveillance and choice

Man looking through keyholeThe Care Quality Commission (CQC) held a discussion recently about the vexed question of camera surveillance in care homes. Their discussion highlighted some of the factors that should be taken into account in thinking about its use, particularly in relation to the freedom and choice of the residents. The CQC is planning to issue information soon to public and care providers on the use of cameras.

Overt or covert

It’s an issue which is described in the recently revised Quality Compliance Systems policy, CCTV Monitoring Policy and Procedure. The issue is a controversial one for all of us, whether it is overt surveillance, that is cameras we probably know about such as CCTV cameras in car parks, or even more controversially, covert surveillance, that is the use of hidden cameras or audio equipment. What the QCS policy does, is to encourage the care home provider to think about why they might be using a camera. There may well be reasons to think covert surveillance might be used –such as to investigate crime such as theft or abuse – but as the QCS policy says, there may be better ways of doing this, and any use of cameras in such circumstances should be done in conjunction with the police.

Capacity to choose

In thinking about the use of cameras, we need to remember that a care home is home to its residents. They need to be included in any decision making about the use of cameras. Some people may lack the mental capacity to make a decision as to whether they consent to the use of cameras, and the recent CQC discussions recognised that. In these cases, mental capacity legislation allows staff to make decisions on behalf of someone, where the staff can demonstrate they have acted in accordance with the principles of mental capacity law. Care home providers should document decision making around use of cameras, and be able to show this to any inspecting body.

Proper safeguarding

One of the important points that the CQC are noting in their discussions is that use of cameras should not be used in isolation, or as a shortcut to providing proper safeguarding measures. Care homes should be providing safe and thoughtful care for their residents. There should be strong supervision policies in place, and a culture and atmosphere fostered that allows staff, service users and their families and friends to voice concerns that will be looked into properly, and all these people should be involved in decision making about the use of cameras, if it becomes necessary. You can follow the recent CQC discussions here.

David Beckingham – QCS Expert Mental Health " href="" target="_new" data-tooltip="According to statistics produced by the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health issue at some point in their life.  For care providers, this means being aware that mental health issues require specialist skills in handling and that they can come on at any point in life. Depression in particular must be looked out for by care professionals, as it affects 1 in 5 older people.<br /><br />Mental health problems range from mixed anxiety and depression to bipolar disorder and feelings of suicide.  Mental health isn’t just about dealing with service users who have specific problems, but ensuring that all service users remain mentally healthy.  Good care will look towards enabling service users to make the most of their life and their potential, to remain active and stimulated and to play a full role in their community, in their family and in their treatment.<br /><br />There are now specialist care homes and domiciliary care agencies which specialise in the care of people with mental health problems, doing their best to eliminate the stigma and to offer those in its care respect and dignity at all times.">Mental Health Contributor


Topics: Mental Health

Sarah Riley

Senior Customer Care Executive

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