Ask Sheila - Archive England

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and therefore is no longer available to answer your social care questions. However, you might still find the answer you’ve been searching for down below.

14th October 2016

Can a resident’s family put a camera in their bedroom?

Dear Sheila, I work as Deputy in Residential EMI Home. Relatives of one Resident informed us, staff, that they put camera in their mother’s bedroom. How should we react and protect Resident privacy and dignity? The resident has no capacity and is often assisted with personal care aspects in own bedroom.
Thank you for your time and looking forward to hearing from you.

Dear Agnieszka,

Thank you for your question.

This has been one of the most contentious issues between care providers and the Care Quality Commission in recent years.

On 12 February 2015, CQC issued a press release and guidance about using hidden cameras to monitor care and in the press release they said: “We’ve published information for people who are thinking about using hidden cameras – or any type of recording equipment – to monitor someone’s care.

Aimed at families, carers and people who use health and care services, the leaflet sets out some of the things you can consider if you are thinking of using recording equipment, as well as explaining other steps you can take to raise your concerns.

The press release went on to say: “Our Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Andrea Sutcliffe, said: “We all want people using health and social care services to receive safe, effective, high quality and compassionate care. It is what everyone has a right to expect.

Sadly, we know that does not always happen and the anxiety and distress this causes people, either for themselves or a loved one, is simply awful. For some, cameras or other forms of surveillance, whether openly used by services or hidden by families, are the answer. Others feel this is an invasion of people’s privacy and dignity. Many don’t know what to do if they are concerned.

You can find the guidance document at:

You do not say why the family has put the camera in their Mother’s bedroom. You will see in the guidance that the lack of capacity is an important consideration for deciding whether or not to use surveillance cameras.

It is possibly for safety reasons but who is monitoring the recording in that case.

It is clear that CQC believe that there is no legal reason why surveillance cameras should not be installed in a service user’s bedroom. You might want to take legal advice about that.

I am however going to tell you my personal view about this contentious issue. I am very lucky that my 94-year-old father is still alive and that he is still able to manage on his own at home. He is a very private man and as a general position I would never want him to be recorded in his most private and intimate moments. I know that he would never consent to that.

That general right to privacy that I believe he has would, in my mind, only change if there was a consideration of abuse. That is quite different but I have always believed that if such cameras are to be used then that should be authorised by a third party organisation.

As I have said this is my personal opinion and I would be very interested to hear what other people think.

With best wishes.


*All information is correct at the time of publishing.

About Sheila

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and over the years , prior to her retirement she has answered thousands of your social questions. You can still access the many questions below.

For Sheila Scott OBE as the former CEO of National Care Association (NCA), care is Sheila's life. She possesses a strong command of the issues facing the care sector informed by her long career as a nursing professional, the owner and manager of a care business, and as a leader in the care sector.

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