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CQC To Unveil Guidance on Spy Cameras in Nursing Homes

The Telegraph yesterday reported that the Care Quality Commission is set to release official guidelines advising loved ones on how to appropriately use Spy Cameras in nursing homes in order to monitor the quality of care given to residents or patients. The CQC- the government’s official watchdog tasked with regulating the quality of care in hospitals and nursing homes- had been publicly mulling over whether to endorse such drastic actions by relatives since last year. The agency was effectively pressured into the decision by steady stream of horrific cases in which relatives and journalists had covertly recorded patients being abused and neglected by staff in instiutions across the country. In every case the failings were completely missed by inspectors, and only came to light after recordings were made using hidden cameras.

CQC To Unveil Guidance on Spy Cameras in Nursing Homes
Winterbourne view hospital, site of a notorious abuse investigation starting in 2011. Image via BBC


High profile care home scandals

  •  2011– In one of the most notorious cases of it’s type, journalists from the BBC’s Panorama went undercover in Winterbourne View, a private hospital in Gloucestershire. Horrific footaged emerged of at-risk adults being assaulted and violently restrained, and forced to endure cold showers as punishment. The case provoked immediate outrage, and the hospital has since been closed down and 11 members of staff found guilty of abuse.
  • December 2012– Secret filming by a concerned relative of a resident of Oban House nursing home in Croydon captured her grandmother calling out to nurses over 300 times without response, before being refused help to use the toilet. The footage was later used in another Panorama report.
  • November 2013– Another investigation broadcast in the same episode of Panorama found staff members slapping, taunting and bullying residents with dementia in a care home in Essex. The home was inspected by the CQC and given a “clean bill of health” during the period that the reporter was gathering evidence.
  • June 2014– Footage from a concerned son found staff members forcibly restraining and abusing his 79 year old mother in a home in North Somerset. Members of staff were handed custodial sentences after the footage was immediately handed in to the police.

In each of these cases hidden video recordings managed to capture undeniable evidence of abuse, when routine inspections completely failed to find fault with the standard of care given. This most recent move by the CQC will be seen as a thorough vindication for all of the relatives that took the difficult step to use secret filming.

720p HD Hidden Spy Camera Wall Clock with PIR Motion Detection & Audio
Spy cameras hidden in clocks can be used for covert recording

Understandably, some have voiced concern over being seen to endorse such drastic measures, with many objecting to the possibility of big brother watching over vulnerable patients. Certainly, the issue of consent for those who cannot provide it is potentially a thorny one. Some nursing groups have also raised potential objections, suggesting it could add unneccessary pressure into what is already a highly stressful and difficult job. It is partially to allay these concerns that the CQC will be releasing their guidelines for using spy cameras in the next month. It is expected to lay out the scenarios in which recording will be permitted, and how to make sure it is carried out ethically in regards to patients with dymentia or learning difficulties. Of course, as soon as it is released we will update you right here, breaking down the key points set out in the document.

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