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To See or not to C…CTV

Now that is the question.

When we were planning our new nursing rehabilitation centre we talked at length about the pros and cons of installing CCTV cameras in all communal areas as well as outside. It is a controversial matter and a decision not taken without very careful consideration.

Cons

  • Care by camera e.g. staff watching the screen in the office rather than actually being with and interacting with people they are supposed to be caring for
  • It is considered by some to be an infringement of privacy
  • It could compromise dignity e.g. does someone really want to be recorded whilst they are disorientated, incontinent and maybe even stripping their clothes off due to confusion?
  • Also, if people didn’t like the idea we would get no residents and for a new business that would be a disaster.

Pros

  • It adds to security and serves as a serious deterrent to would be thieves
  • It can be reassuring for individuals and their families to know that should anything concerning happen it has been captured on camera
  • It is a constant reminder to staff of how seriously we take our standards of care
  • It enhances our safeguarding processes and it also protects staff from any potential inaccurate allegations.

These are just some of the things we thought about before we came down on the side of YES we want CCTV. So, following the comings and goings of CCTV engineers, lots of ladders, miles of cable and dirty boots over our new carpets, it is there and fully functioning. It has been a normal part of everyday life at The Marbrook Centre for eight months now and we have no regrets.

I am the ‘responsible individual’ registered with the CQC and I take the responsibility of caring for very vulnerable people who are other peoples loved ones, very seriously. The CCTV does help me sleep more soundly, although I am not naive enough to think that it is a prevention of all things bad. It isn’t, it is just a small help in this direction and as a famous supermarket once said, every little helps.

To counteract some of the cons we practise a number of things. Firstly, we are fully compliant with data protection protocols and good practice pertaining to CCTV. We also have a big sign next to the visitor’s book which clearly states CCTV is in operation. It is clearly stated in the resident’s and staff handbooks. We are very open about it from the first point of contact which allows people to decide not to come and stay with us if they are troubled by the idea. Covert surveillance is never acceptable for us, ever! Another very important factor is that it is not monitored by staff. They have no access to it so cannot use it as a replacement for caring for people personally.

So how is it used? The senior management team can access it randomly to watch snapshots of life at the home. This probably amounts to less than an hour of live footage a week being seen. As part of our audit and quality procedures we do randomly select maybe three or four different shifts a month to look at retrospectively. We look at how are staff interacting with residents and are staff at night fully awake and attentive? So far so good! It is also used without hesitation when we have had a suspected incident, accident or complaint which needs further investigation.

So for good or for bad it’s what we do at The Marbrook Centre. It is an aide to good care but never a replacement for such.

How would I feel about being recorded on camera if I were ill or vulnerable and needed the care of others?  I would feel safe and happy that someone cares about me enough to want to do it. Will we be using it in our next new nursing centre? You bet we will.

This is a blog by Lesa McAnulty, Chief Operating Officer of The Marbrook Centre.

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