Medical negligence lawyers pushing for surveillance in elderly care homes
Aleading firm of specialist medical negligence solicitors is calling for calling for CCTV to be installed in all care homes to help prevent abuse and neglect.
It says its own research shows that eight out of ten people would prefer CCTV monitoring to protect their elderly loved ones in care from abuse.
It said it found that more than half of people questioned in a national survey said their biggest fear when putting an elderly relative into a home would be that they’d be treated with a lack of genuine care and kindness.
The company says it was moved to push for the additional safeguards in response to an increasing number of cases in which concerned families have resorted to secret filming and recording to catch care home staff either abusing or neglecting their loved ones.
It says it it is already representing several families who turned to secret filming after complaints and concerns raised with home operators and managers made little impact on the quality of care.
It says its Love Our Vulnerable and Elderly (LOVE) campaign aims to raise the awareness about “the abuse and neglect happening in many care homes” and calls for the vulnerable and elderly to be loved, protected, respected and treated with dignity at all times when in care.
It is supporting campaigning mum Lisa Smith, 34, of Rochdale, who took her 86-year-old dementia suffering father out of care on Christmas Eve last year, labelling the four years he was in care as ‘a living nightmare’.
She established an e-petition calling for mandatory CCTV in care homes, a petition which will ensure a Government response if it reaches 10,000 signatures, and a debate in parliament if backed by 100,000.
More than a thousand people have signed the petition since the firm’s campaign launched last week, winning support from relatives of those in care, and many who currently work within the care industry.
It says its research found:
• 83 PER CENT of those surveyed would agree to their relative being filmed 24-hours a day – or would go as far as filming secretly if they felt a loved one was not being cared for.
• 4 IN 10 would not trust a care home or residential home to provide a safe environment for their loved one.
• 55 PER CENT said their biggest fear when putting a loved one into a care or residential home would be a lack of genuine care and kindness.
• 23 PER CENT said that they were aware of someone that has suffered from poor quality care in a care or residential home.
• 55 PER CENT of people questioned said that media stories relating to abuse and neglect have put them off placing a loved one in a care or residential home.
Hudgell’s Renu Daly, a specialist in handling claims of abuse and neglect, says the survey results demonstrate the need for major change across the care industry: “What is abundantly clear from these survey results is that there is now a complete mistrust of the care industry in terms of providing a safe, loving environment for elderly and vulnerable loved ones.
“That is a sad situation, as we know there are many superb care providers across the UK, with staff who work exceptionally hard, often in difficult circumstances, to provide a loving, caring environment where vulnerable, elderly residents can feel happy and at home.
“Unfortunately, there have been too many cases, many of which have been in the national media, in which poor standards of care and abuse have not been prevented. It is simply not acceptable to keep hearing the excuses of ‘isolated incidents’. It should not be happening at all.
“The introduction of CCTV cameras can help improve standards across the board, but also protect those homes performing to a consistently high standard, as they will not be subject to false accusations of poor care.
“There should be nowhere to hide, and for those falling below the required standards, CCTV would bring about an immediate improvement in performance. She said: “There has been a sharp increase in the number of care home abuse and neglect cases that come to us over the past 18 months.
“There has been a common theme in many of the cases, and that is families raising concerns about the treatment of their loved ones, not getting satisfactory responses, and then uncovering poor, sometimes shocking, treatment themselves when carrying out their own filming or recording.
“We believe that the time has come for the Government to seriously consider making CCTV systems compulsory in all UK care and residential homes caring for vulnerable people.
“We believe this would be in the best interests not only of patients and their families, but also care and residential home owners and operators, and their staff.”
She said there would be benefits for all in such a scheme, not least the care homes and their staff including:
• INCREASED protection against abuse, both physical and mental, by care home staff or other residents
• GREATER confidence when placing their relatives within the care industry
• OPPORTUNITIES to view the care on their relatives beyond limited visiting hours.
• BENEFITS for care and residential home operators will include;
• PROTECTION for staff against false or malicious allegations
• CLEAR-CUT evidence against unjustified legal and insurance claims
• EXTRA observational aids for caring for residents when short staffed.
• IMPROVED security
Ms Daly added: “Residents’ privacy is often used as a reason against having CCTV, but at present, they have no option at all, as there is no CCTV coverage. This survey has shown overwhelming support.
“We know relatives would feel happier with CCTV cameras in use, and surely the option now for relatives and patients should to ‘opt out’ of filming in private rooms if they wish, with all communal areas subject to round-the-clock filming.”