HC-One consults on using CCTV in residents’ rooms

Posted on May 27th, by geoff in Caring Times, Caring Times head. No Comments

Caring Times, June 2013

HC-One, the UK’s third largest residential care provider, has launched a consultation on whether visible CCTV cameras should be installed in all of its 226 care and nursing homes to deter and reduce possible abuse and neglect of residents.

The company commissioned a poll of more than 2000 British adults, asking whether they would support or oppose the cameras in care homes. Four in five (80%) supported the installation of visible cameras in care homes – and more than a third (36%) said they strongly supported the measure.

Should the scheme get the green light, HC-One care homes would operate an ‘opt-in’ scheme where residents and their relatives would be able to ask for cameras to be placed in their rooms.

HC-One is confirming that it intends to ask residents, families and staff if they would support such a measure. HC-One will be the first provider to implement this kind of scheme.

It is hoped that such a scheme will help root out instances of poor quality care, neglect and abuse, and act as a deterrent against deliberate bad practice and cruelty, while protecting the privacy and dignity of residents who would prefer not to be filmed.

HC-One says its consultation with residents and relatives will be conducted over the coming four months.

Panorama exposés

Two years ago, failings were exposed at an HC-One home by the BBC TV’s Panorama when a relative secretly filmed in a resident’s room. Since then HC-One has been considering the controversial issue of using cameras in all its homes, and discussing the potential scheme with stakeholders and regulators.

HC-One chairman Dr Chai Patel said the secret filming that took place in 2012 had shown shocking and distressing failings.

“We do not tolerate this kind of behaviour and we remain deeply sorry to the resident and their family,” said Dr Patel. “Over the last two years we have had conversations with our stakeholders and our regulator about the potential use of cameras in homes to protect the health and wellbeing of our residents. This is, and always will be, our number one priority.

“As an organisation, and as a sector, we need to move forward and tackle this problem once and for all. Unannounced inspections by the CQC, local authorities, and our own service quality teams are important, but alone they do not always uncover the actions of a small number of individuals.

“This is why we feel placing cameras in care homes can only help protect the wellbeing and dignity of those we support. We hope that, as a society, we can start an open and honest debate on this most vital issue.”

Support & caution

Previously, care minister Norman Lamb, CQC chairman David Prior, and chief inspector of adult social care for England Andrea Sutcliffe have all supported the idea of camera surveillance in care homes.

Older people’s charity Independent Age isn’t keen on the idea of cameras in residents’ rooms. The charity’s chief executive Janet Morrison said that in any setting, the privacy and dignity of care home residents must be protected.

“In the rare cases where there is a genuine cause for concern about the care of a resident we could see the potential for using CCTV,” said Ms Morrison. “However cameras must not be used as a matter of routine and we would not want their use to become the norm. They should never become a substitute for good management and proper staff supervision.”

The GMB union for many of staff who work in HC-One’s care homes, has also voiced a note of caution. Justin Bowden, GMB national officer for the care sector, said the union would seek the views of 6,000 members in 227 HC-One care homes.

“Cameras in care homes is a highly emotive subject which provokes understandably strong views and such a big step requires very careful consideration,” said Mr Bowden.

“HC-One is wise to be approaching this with caution and as part of a wide scale consultation.”

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