Ask the Care Specialists

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Does a device which can receive a video call and which is placed in a resident’s room contravene GDPR rules?  

I would like to place a device in my mother's room in a private care home . The device is a photo frame which can display pictures sent to it which is fine. It is also capable of receiving a video call and therefore has a camera for this purpose. The home are suggesting that this would contravene GDPR rules, is this correct. The device can be set to answer the call without any intervention by the resident.

It’s an interesting question…

My immediate reaction would be to review some of the guidance on CCTV in relation to GDPR, which also led me to review some of the guidance on dashcams for vehicles since they’re conceptually similar. I also reviewed some guidance on laptop webcams in the context of home working and office working since they’re all closely related to but aren’t quite the same as what the person asking the question is concerned with. The request bears similarities to CCTV regulations, although the content is not recorded it is merely viewed remotely although the focus of the camera on the device would be in a private care home. The matter is further complicated by the fact that the camera would be confined to the residents room, and the fact that (from what you’ve described) the camera can accept incoming calls automatically. I did find this article from the CQC which discusses using cameras or other recording equipment but it’s for the purpose of checking somebody’s care and there is guidance from the ICO too here.

The guidance from CQC here ultimately comes down to obtaining the consent of the person being cared for and abiding with the provider’s policy for residents on any communication related activity. Based on this I would argue that unless the provider’s policy expressly forbids video communication equipment, as long as the resident gives permission for the equipment to reside within their room and as long as the equipment is not used outside of the resident’s room then it shouldn’t contravene GDPR. As an aside I would also recommend ensuring that the equipment is secured and that calls made to the device are secured by some kind of username and password so that access to the resident’s camera are restricted appropriately. I hope this helps


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