Professionalism and trust

Posted on July 1st, by geoff in Caring Times head, CT blog. 2 comments

By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson

There has been a lot of sober discussion recently – via online ‘Linked In’ forums and the like, about the use of CCTV cameras in care homes. There have also been numerous comments on the topic from various organisations representing older people.

The overall sentiment is overwhelmingly anti – most concede that cameras may have a role to play where abuse or neglect is suspected, but are firmly opposed to the routine, everyday use of cameras, visible or hidden. Nor do ‘opt in’ schemes, where residents and their families can choose whether or not to have a camera installed in a resident’s room, find much favour.

I find myself in accord with the prevailing sentiment. The use of cameras gives care workers a clear message from employers and residents’ families, and the message is “We don’t trust you; we have no faith in your training, your professionalism, in your humanity”.

In an ‘opt in’ scheme, the home manager is going to have to explain the option, and the reasons for it, to prospective residents and their families. This is unlikely to be much of a ‘selling point’ – several people I have asked said they would not place their loved one in a home which felt the need to offer the option of installing a camera in a resident’s room.

CCTV is no substitute for staff who are well-selected, well managed, well trained and well rewarded. I recently attended a training day for care home workers and I was impressed with how the trainer made a huge effort to inculcate a sense of professional pride, to reinforce the staff’s role as the residents’ advocate and to make them feel that they could ‘whistle-blow’ without fear. I spoke with several of those attending the training day and I felt hugely encouraged by their enthusiasm, their level of engagement and understanding. I would have had no difficulty in entrusting them with the care of my mum. Cameras are a cop-out.

– The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

2 responses to “Professionalism and trust”

  1. Ridouts says:

    We at Ridouts have given this a lot of thought and are in favour of overt (not hidden) CCTV for the following reasons:

    (1) Your blog states that CCTV gives a message to staff that they are not trusted. The first consideration, however, should be the residents, not the staff. Protecting residents from abuse is the most fundamental responsibility of any provider.
    (2) CCTV is not a substitute for good recruitment and training, but is a useful supplement. Plainly, overt CCTV can both deter poor practice, and assist in investigating allegations and unexplained injuries.
    (3) CCTV is widely used in a variety of other settings including hospitals. There is no reason to think it would have an adverse impact on staff in care homes. Moreover, complying with the law and good practice, including Guidance on CCTV published by the Information Commissioner, will ensure that people’s rights in respect of CCTV are protected.
    (4) CCTV can reduce the time staff are suspended during safeguarding investigations because the footage will facilitate faster and more reliable investigations.
    (5) CCTV is not intended for the majority of caring staff but for the minority that are not well-suited to their roles and abuse residents. Case after case has shown that this minority may be significant. It is putting heads in sand to imagine that abuse can be avoided simply by careful selection especially given the difficulty recruiting to capacity in many parts of the country.

    For those reasons, we expect CCTV to be used as standard in the industry in the medium term and we welcome that development

  2. CCTV cameras– this is an unfortunate direction of travel and should be used only for people who give their full permission and are cognisant of the consequences on their privacy. It is a very fine balance. Knee jerk reactions are not what is needed now but a more strategic look at why we are in this position and how we can change cultures at the strategic, operational and practice levels. I realise that it can be useful in some schools but does not deal with the causal factors of the problem!

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