The Care Quality Commission (CQC), an independent regulator for health and social care in England, has published guidance on the use of hidden CCTV cameras in nursing and care homes. It comes after the BBC Panorama programme ‘Behind Closed Doors: Elderly Care Exposed’ used secret filming to uncover abuse and neglect in a number of nursing homes.

The issues raised by the programme prompted many to call for more widespread use of hidden cameras to monitor the care their loved ones were receiving and in November last year the CQC began compiling guidance on the use of cameras.

Opinion has been divided on whether the use of hidden cameras and covert filming is a good idea. In light of the abuse and neglect uncovered by Panorama, many feel it is the only way they can ensure that those in need of care are receiving it, whereas others feel it is an invasion of privacy.

According to the CQC’s report:

  • The use of hidden CCTV in nursing and care homes should not be either encouraged or discouraged.
  • It should only be used in a patient’s private room.
  • The patient must provide permission for hidden cameras to be placed in their room.
  • In cases where the patient is unable to provide consent, it should be proved that the use of hidden cameras is in the patient’s best interest.

Although many care home owners claimed that using hidden cameras could lead to a breakdown in trust and that the solution lies in better funding and training, until that funding and the level of care being offered improved, there is no doubt that for many people with loved ones in care, hidden cameras offer peace of mind.

Giving his thoughts on the matter, Norman Lamb, Minister for Care said; “Video surveillance has helped to expose cruelty and neglectful care, so I welcome this new advice. Decisions about using surveillance are understandably difficult and there is always a balance to be struck between protecting people and respecting their right to privacy, but this information will allow families to the make the right choice for them.”

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