A national campaign by the Daily Express calling for CCTV in care homes has received the backing of Health Secretary Matt Hancock. The campaign, which calls for monitoring in all communal areas aims to increase the level of protection enjoyed by vulnerable adults living in care homes and reduce incidences of abuse.
One care home group has already begun to install CCTV cameras in its homes after an initial trial proved to be successful. After a consultation with service users, staff and family members, Wellburn Care Homes has installed surveillance cameras in an attempt to demonstrate openness and transparency and reports encouraging results.
As well as offering reassurance, when used in bedrooms, the surveillance has allowed for less invasive observation of sleep patterns and means fewer disturbances overnight. The cameras can be turned off at any time at the request of service users or family and are only visible to selected senior staff.
The use of CCTV remains controversial, with CQC’s position being that it should be used an exception rather than a rule. However, the regulator provides clear guidance, which we have summarised below, should you wish to go ahead with its use.
Are You Thinking About CCTV? Follow Our 5 Steps to Being Safe and Legally Compliant
- Assess the Need: The use of CCTV can have an impact on privacy, trust and effective working relationships. Before going ahead with any type of surveillance, assess whether its use is justifiable and if the disadvantages of introducing such a system could outweigh the benefits.
- Consult with Stakeholders: If your assessment identifies a need for surveillance, you must consult with service users, families, staff and other stakeholders about its use. Without the involvement, consent and support of these groups, the introduction of any type of CCTV will be fraught with difficulties.
- Be Transparent: Unless there’s an overwhelming and urgent need to carry out covert monitoring, you should always ensure that people affected are aware that surveillance is being undertaken. Failure to do so can quickly lead to a breakdown in trust and cause future problems. Even when you can justify the need for covert surveillance, it must be used for the shortest time possible.
- Handle Data Safely: All data collected must be handled in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulations and access should only be given to trained and authorised individuals. Put in place clear policies for the storage, retention and destruction of data as well as for handling requests for access to data.
- Record Your Actions: CQC states that inspectors are unlikely to ask to view CCTV footage but they may ask for evidence that you have taken appropriate steps before introducing it. Make sure that you retain records in relation to each stage of your decision-making process to help avoid problems once CCTV is in use.