RCN says covert filming should be banned from care homes

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

The head of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said covert filming left staff feeling like they were “under the microscope” and could drive them out of jobs where they were needed. Delegates at the RCN’s annual conference voted overwhelmingly against the use of video and audio recordings with four in five nurses opposing their use.

Earlier this year, CQC issued guidance about covert filming in care homes if families were worried that relatives were being subject to abuse.

Dr Peter Carter, RCN chief executive, said nurses did not feel trusted when their every move was filmed, and might be driven out of care homes, to find jobs elsewhere, if they discovered cameras were in use. He suggested that filming is not the answer to the problem and said: “We have covert filming in every high street in the country. Does that stop all sorts of inappropriate behaviour on Saturday nights? There’s always a danger of getting a quick fix to a complex problem”.

He also said that more subtle abuse and neglect such as ensuring that people were properly fed, mobilised, and dressings changed properly would remain undetected. He said: “If you have people under pressure and they haven’t got the time to toilet people, to bathe them properly, to do proper wound care, you’re not going to pick that up on covert filming. What you will pick up is if someone is gratuitously cruel to an older person … in the great scheme of things that kind of thing is incredibly rare.”

During the debate at the RCN, nurses said they might be put off working in institutions, if they became aware webcams or recording was being used. Dr Carter said the greatest challenge for care homes was recruiting enough staff, which could become even harder if cameras were known to be in use.

Eileen Chubb, of charity Compassion in Care, said good carers and nurses had nothing to fear from the use of recording. The former care worker, who exposed failings in care homes, said: “I am pro cameras because every day we get calls from staff and relatives who are witnessing abuse in care homes and nothing is done about it when they report it. I always say to relatives, raise your concerns through normal channels and then when nothing is doing, use a camera… As a carer myself, I would have been proud at any time to be filmed either openly or covertly delivering the care I gave, because I was proud of the care that I gave at all times.”

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