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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.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Topics: Mental Health

David Beckingham

Mental Health Specialist

David Beckingham is a self-employed independent trainer, and is also an honorary lecturer with the University of Cumbria. His professional background is as a social worker and he has worked in care homes for older people in Cumbria. David’s main area of expertise is in mental health. Prior to becoming self-employed he was a Staff Development and Training Officer with Cumbria County Council, both commissioning and delivering training to mental health workers and others in statutory and independent sector organisations. Read more

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