Renu Daly, a specialist in handling claims of abuse and neglect at Hudgell Solicitors, reflects on the impact of our campaign calling for CCTV in all care homes.
Two weeks ago we launched a campaign calling for the Government to make it compulsory for all care and residential homes in the UK to install CCTV systems.
Our reasoning was simple. We have seen far too many cases across the country in which abuse and neglect has been caught on camera by worried relatives of those in care.
These people have turned to secret filming as a last resort.
They have been so unhappy and fearful of what happens behind closed doors, and unsatisfied with the answers given when they have questioned standards of care, that they have turned to desperate measures.
In each of these cases – which we are seeing on an almost weekly basis in national newspapers – the abuse and neglect is only caught for one reason – a camera doesn’t lie.
Petition for CCTV in Care Homes
If 10,000 people sign the petition, the Government will be required to provide a response. 100,000 signatures could see it make the agenda in Parliament, and then the matter would hopefully be fully and properly discussed and considered.
In the past two weeks we have been overwhelmed by the early support for our campaign. It has been the subject of debate on television and radio stations across the country, on which I faced some challenging questions as to our stance.
We have been supported by many who have been unhappy with the care of their relatives in homes up and down the country, but also, significantly from many who have also worked within the care profession themselves.
Many comments from carers have reflected with sadness that such a move is being asked to be considered, but in agreement that it now appears a necessity, given the number of people letting the vast majority of excellent, dedicated carers down by being abusive and neglectful.
Understandably, the strongest voice of opposition has been around privacy.
It came up in many interviews on radio stations across the country, with critics quick to claim 24-hour CCTV coverage would infringe upon a care home resident’s privacy.
We realised when setting out on this campaign that there would be many who would consider this an intrusion too far.
However, surely the least we can do is to install CCTV coverage in all communal areas, and have it as an option for residents and families in their own private rooms? Technology is so advanced these days that footage in private rooms could perhaps be securely protected to ensure only agreed family members had access to footage?
As long as there is an option to opt-out of surveillance in private areas, then surely there is no reason why it couldn’t be used effectively, and with the approval of all.
CCTV will not only catch abuse of elderly in care, but also prevent it
Finding the balance between safety and privacy is difficult, but we believe CCTV will not only help prevent abuse from taking place, but could even help care facilities better observe at-risk residents, and offer homes themselves protection against malicious allegations, which could be an increasing issue in years to come given the growing number of cases.
By campaigning for the implementation of surveillance in care homes, we may finally start to tackle this difficult, long standing, and increasing problem.
My last word would be that our campaign is far from a potential invasion of privacy, or an infringement of human rights. Our campaign aims to ensure the elderly and vulnerable are loved, respected, protected and care for with dignity at all times.
That is why we want people to sign the petition.