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Residential care workers ‘relaxed’ about CCTV in care homes

Recent months have seen a flurry of negative reports regarding the care industry. However, most care workers are not worried about the installation of CCTV in care homes. This is according to a recent survey carried out by the GMB union.

The study, which involved interviewing 2000 individuals working within residential care homes, revealed that 60% of respondents felt relaxed about having CCTV routinely installed in communal areas.

Whether the cameras should also be installed in residents’ private rooms was a more controversial issue, however, with over half of survey participants opposing the idea.

CCTV Positively Received

A large proportion (70%) of those taking part in the survey agreed that CCTV could go some way towards identifying when abuse is taking place, but there was concern about the potential effect on the privacy of residents. The survey also highlighted the potential impact upon the morale of staff members – 41% felt footage could be used unfairly by managers, and 57% felt cameras could be taken as a sign of mistrust.

A Combination of High-Quality Care and CCTV?

The issue is a complex one and made all the more so by recent news reports, such as the BBC Panorama programme which revealed shocking levels of abuse inflicted on care-home residents. Overall, however, the main concerns of GMB members surround the preservation of privacy and the dignity of residents. The general consensus is that cameras could never substitute for high-quality care and, especially in places where funding is limited, the money spent could be more beneficial in other areas.

A further major issue regarding the installation of CCTV cameras includes the ability of residents to give their informed consent. Power of attorney would need to be given to families to enable them to act on the behalf of their relatives. This issue is complicated further because residents themselves are generally less keen on the idea of CCTV than their families.

The survey findings were published alongside additional guidance provided by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) regarding the use of hidden cameras. The CQC document says that such equipment may be instrumental in identifying cases of abuse or poor care, as well as serving to alleviate the concerns of relatives. The document also stresses the importance of very careful thought about how cameras might impact privacy – not just of the residents themselves but also for anyone using the service, including staff, visiting professionals and families.

It is hoped the guidance, which took over a year to compile, will assist in decision-making and provide information for all stakeholders.

Justin Bower, the national officer for GMB, suggests the answer does not solely involve the use of CCTV. Instead, he maintains that better pay and a greater degree of respect for residential care-home workers will go further to reduce risks and help the industry to recover.

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