People in care homes face an ‘attack on their privacy and dignity’ if new plans are implemented.
Privacy group Big Brother Watch has criticised proposals to use hidden cameras, saying: ‘To subject them [care home residents] to covert surveillance where there is not reasonable cause for suspicion would be both an attack on their privacy and dignity.’
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is set to assess the benefits of hidden cameras in care homes against the risks of invading peoples’ privacy.
Other proposals include sending ‘mystery-shoppers’ into care homes to assess quality and treatment, and report back their findings.
A spokesman for the CQC defended the proposals, telling the Guardian: ‘We are not talking here about putting a camera in every care home because that would break all sorts of rules around people’s rights.
‘If we were to do it, it could be in situations such as, for example, if there were questions about carers not turning up at people’s homes or not turning up on time. There is the potential for using cameras there, obviously with the consent of those being cared for and their families.’
Concerns over adult care were first raised in 2011, after BBC Panorama exposed alleged abuse at a care home near Bristol. An independent report in 2012 said that fundamental changes were needed into how vulnerable adults were cared for.
Andrea Sutcliffe of the CQC said: ‘This is a fresh start for how care homes, home care, and other adult social care services are inspected and regulated across the country. We will always be on the side of the people who use care services. For every care service we look at, I want us to ask, is this good enough for my mum?’
She also stated her desire to employ members of the public with first hand experience of care homes to ‘get under the skin of the places’.
The CQC plans to discuss these proposals with the public over the coming months, ahead of a public consultation in spring 2014.
News writer for The Justice Gap and student journalist at the University of Winchester