A new set of guidelines by the Care Quality Commission is hoping to thwart the increasing number of enquiries by families, tempted to film their relatives so they can capture the real level of care being provided within nursing homes and hospitals.

The advice isn’t ruling out the use of hidden cameras but rather suggesting it is one option among a great many ways of dealing with the concerns thrown up when a loved one is placed in the care of others.

This is probably one of the most talked about subjects in training rooms within care sectors across the UK. Its followers seem to fall very definitely into two camps – those who firmly believe it is their right to know what care elderly people are receiving and those who see it as an invasion of privacy and one that should not be tolerated.

The CQC guidance on the use of hidden cameras to monitor the care of older people in hospitals and care homes is aimed at families, carers and people who use health and care services.

The 11 page leaflet sets out options for them to consider when thinking of using recording equipment, as well as explaining other steps that can be taken to raise concerns.

It includes advice on gaining permission from the person being cared for and where it can be done but also covers non-covert recordings.

For those who see it as an infringement of data protection it is explained that the use of cameras is, in fact, acceptable and within the law, but it must follow a particular path of questioning and most definitely must not affect or include others around the individual being observed and their carers.

One of the main messages to come out of the new guidance is very much a plea by those whose job it is to consider the wellbeing of everyone involved that if people do have concerns, they should be raised with the provider of services first and regulators such as the CQC. Hidden surveillance, they suggest, should be the last resort.

As director and founder of The Athena Programme Sarah Carlicks sees it as only a good thing:

“This controversial subject is on everyone’s lips at the moment. There are mechanisms in place for reporting concerns and if a family member or carer is that concerned about someone’s care then they hopefully should feel that if they report it correctly that they will be listened to and the appropriate response will be put in place.

“The sharing of this guidance will hopefully generate fruitful discussion and continue to improve the care sector.”

The new advice is a direct result of discussions over the past year between MPs and senior level care officials who have spent time with the families of those whose elderly relatives have been admitted into full time care.

In some instances families have discovered too late that the level of care has been so poor it has resulted in illness and, in some instances, death.

Thankfully the majority of people they have spoken to are from families who are simply concerned about the health and well being of their relatives but don’t know who or where to turn to for advice.

It’s hoped that this move will go some way to promoting open discussion and that ‘good old fashioned’ level of trust between carers and the individual and their families re-establishes itself.

Watching a loved one go from varying stages of independence to total dependence is difficult enough without having to start worrying if they are getting the love and support they deserve as vulnerable human beings.

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

CQC Guidance – http://www.cqc.org.uk/content/using-hidden-cameras-monitor-care

The Athena Programme – http://www.theathenaprogramme.co.uk/