Calls for CCTV in Care Homes to be Independently Controlled to Protect Most Vulnerable
July 11, 2012
The Fresh Outlook
Jenny Moore, founder of Your Voice Matters campaign, tells The Fresh Outlook about her petition for CCTV in care homes.
Last week The Fresh Outlook reported how the complaints system in many care homes is ineffective. Human rights organisation FreshTies is continuing to campaign to improve standards in care homes and has called for independent volunteer care home visitors to act as confidential advocates for care home residents in order to tackle the neglect experienced by many vulnerable people. This week, we take a look at how other groups and organisations are tackling similar issues within care homes.
Jenny Moore has a relative with dementia who has lived in four care homes in the last two years. She has followed all free complaint routes available to families over this time including the Care Quality Commission and Local Government Ombudsman. All were unsuccessful. Her family have experienced serious conflicts with care providers and following her promoting an anonymous questionnaire for carers and relatives of all care homes which was covered by local media, she found her visiting rights revoked. They stated they had serious concerns about her conduct within the care home and towards her relative and serious allegations were made. Two years on she is still trying to clear her name. Banning of families and bullying of care workers who whistle blow are practices used widely across the UK. Jenny said: “Prisoners, small children in nurseries, even the public are all protected by CCTV, so why are our elderly and vulnerable not?”
The Fresh Outlook has also been in contact with Christine Ward, who is the CEO of Pensioners Campaign UK. She explained that their organisation has also heard of many instances where the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has not been effective in following up or producing solutions to complaints which are raised. She said: “The Care Quality Commission is not fit for purpose. They find incidents of neglect, but providing the care home owner has got rid of the staff or told the CQC that the issue has been resolved – they still get an excellent rating, which is ludicrous. In what other realms of society would we give people excellence for failure?”
Your Voice Matters have started to campaign for CCTV in homes. Jenny feels that evidence of neglect and abuse needs to be supported by film footage, as care homes cannot discredit it as they could with the concerns of a relative or care worker. She states: “Unless you have got official evidence, the word of the person making the allegation is hardly ever believed and they are turned into a victim of the care system.”
Christine Ward highlighted that control over the CCTV needs to be in the hands of the relatives. She points out: “If you have the care home controlling the CCTV, are you ever lightly to get them to turnover accurate footage of any incidences?”
Jenny has highlighted that although her campaign for CCTV in care homes would not help her own personal case, as she is not experiencing issues relating to abuse, but rather concerns about basic standards of care, she feels that people in care have the right to be protected and the right to basic standards of care. However, she acknowledges that there are issues with the use of CCTV which need to be carefully considered:
“I want CCTV in bedrooms and bathrooms, which I know is going to cause a lot of controversy. My point is that care workers are currently allowed to carry their mobile phones on their person while they are on duty. How do people know that there loved ones aren’t already being filmed and abused? It has since come out that this is exactly what has been happening.”
Action on Elder Abuse has also featured Jenny’s campaign. They stated: “We are individually caught on camera some 300 times per day. We accept this in public places, although we are more resistant in our workplace where employers can only monitor where it is necessary and proportionate to the purpose. And this is the ‘cross over’ for care homes, because they are both a home and a workplace, which means we are balancing the rights of individuals when considering such measures.”
Both Christine from Pensioners Campaign UK and Jenny from Your Voice Matters state care home owners need to be more accountable. Christine says: “We should have protection under the corporate liability law, so if there is abuse in the home the owners of the home are corporately liable for it. Maybe then they would think about upping the standard of care in the home upping their practise so we don’t have a situation of whistle blowers.” This is a topic which Jenny also feels strongly about; she goes on to say: “There is already a law for corporate liability, why isn’t this happening in care homes? Care workers are often sacked when neglect and abuse comes to light, but no one is saying why does that happen in the first place? I feel that the very top of the chain has got to be made accountable for the actions of their staff. If they thought they where going to be prosecuted they’d make sure their staff where delivering good care. But they get away with it.
A long term solution for decreasing the number of abuse cases in care homes could be to provide better training and higher wages for care home staff to change the image that many have of care work as a short-term employment prospect rather than a career choice. As Christine explains: “If we raised the standard, raised the wages of people in care homes to attract a better quality of carer and also implemented an NVQ requirement, as you do if you are going to be a nursery nurse, we would raise the standard and there would hopefully be less cases of abuse in care homes.”
Several of the organisations we spoke to highlighted the need for a care ‘register’. This would serve to prevent carers who are dismissed from moving on to work in other care homes. Similarly, it would prevent care home owners from setting up another home if their current home is not up to standard.
Jenny is continuing to petition of signatures to support her campaign for CCTV in care homes. She says: “If I could achieve CCTV in communal areas, and then families have the right to pay for their own camera in their relative’s room, then that’s a start.”
To sign the petition, please visit www.yourvoicematters.org.uk
By Sarah Leyland
[Image courtesy of Pete Reed]