CQC publishes further guidance on the use of hidden cameras

CQC has today published guidance for families, carers and those who use health and adult social care services. The guidance is intended to assist them in making appropriate decisions on the use of hidden cameras, or any type of recording equipment, to monitor someone’s care.

The guidance reminds readers that the installation of hidden cameras is a big step and people should think about how it will affect people’s privacy and dignity. It clearly states that people should only use recording equipment with the consent of the person whose care they are concerned about (or after a best interests decision if they lack capacity), and only in their private room. It also reminds people to check the contract of service as use of such equipment could result in a breach of contract.

The guidance also informs readers that if they are worried about the care someone is receiving they should first think about raising their concerns with the care service itself or the local authority if they are funding the care. It explains that providers have a duty to have a formal complaints policy in place and they should respond to all complaints appropriately.

CQC specifically asks people to contact them if they discover poor care or abuse through these surveillance methods if they are worried about sharing it with the provider. CQC also details the actions it will take on receipt of evidence.

Commenting on the guidance, Andrea Sutcliffe, the Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, said “We want all people using health and social care services to receive safe, effective, high quality and compassionate care. It is what everyone has a right to expect. Sadly, we know that does not always happen and the anxiety and distress this causes people, either for themselves or a loved one, is simply awful. For some, cameras or other forms of surveillance, whether openly used by services or hidden by families, are the answer. Others feel this is an invasion of people’s privacy and dignity. Many don’t know what to do if they are concerned.

“For more than a year we have been talking to people who use services, their families and carers as well as providers about this hugely controversial subject. They told us that information from the regulator would be helpful. We published information for providers in December, setting out the responsible steps they need to take into account when considering or already using open or hidden surveillance.

“Today’s information for the pubic explains what people can do if they are worried about someone’s care and the things they need to think about if they are considering using any form of recording equipment. I hope this information helps the public to make the right decisions for them. But what I want more than anything is for services to always provide care that meets the standards we all expect so that the public can have confidence. CQC will continue to hold providers to account and take action when necessary to make sure that happens.”

Norman Lamb, Care and Support Minister, stated “Cameras have helped to expose terrible cruelty and neglectful care and I welcome this new advice. Decisions about using surveillance are extremely difficult – there is always a balance to be struck between protecting people and respecting their right to privacy – but this information will help families to make the right choices for them. We are committed to preventing poor care from happening in the first place and have introduced tougher standards for inspecting care services as well as measures to shut down those that aren’t up to scratch.”

The full guidance document can be viewed at the following link:

http://www.cqc.org.uk/sites/default/files/20150212_public_surveillance_leaflet_final.pdf

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