Camera surveillance the next step for CQC regulation?

A former care home boss has suggested that CQC should look into using camera surveillance in the regulation of the care sector.

The covert use of cameras could be used to monitor the behaviour of staff and residents in care and assist CQC with targeting their inspections based on need rather than on a predetermined timetable. Using cameras in this way could help to focus inspector’s pressurised caseloads and more closely align their regulatory work with the need to protect cared for individuals from neglect or harm.

The ambitions of such a system do appear at first glance to be in the best interests of safeguarding residents from harm; it does raise a number of human rights issues which cannot be overlooked. The most pressing of which relates to the consent to be filmed which is a difficult hurdle to overcome. The alternative- poor care and potential abuse- which isn’t currently captured without such surveillance being in- is an equally undesirable outcome.

If CQC were to use cameras as part of their regulatory toolkit one would have to understand the cost involved in attempting to cover the full floor space of the care establishment. For someone to potentially capture incriminating evidence on a camera it would also involve the employment of a complete system of workers with the sole responsibility of reviewing such footage. Finally and most importantly camera systems of this nature are more likely to have the desired effect if they are covert and to place such a system covertly clearly flies in the face of an unfettered right to private life.

Current CQC guidance on the use of surveillance equipment in health and social care settings is available on the CQC website.

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