Footages taken by hidden cameras in care homes have revealed abuses and lapses in care. BBC's Panorama program has exposed secretly filmed incidents that have initiated an increased interest in surveillance technology.

Now, a newly launched care home surveillance technology could allow family members to monitor residents through their smartphones while feeding videos to expert monitors who track cases of malpractice or abuse. The system allows them to alert the home for problems or bring issues of abuse or poor care to the police and regulators.

The care monitoring service, which uses sound and motion sensitive camera that can trigger alerts on unusual activities, is intended to protect vulnerable people, including the elderly in care homes.

The footage taken by the system will be monitored by health staff or those who have received training from the social care sector. The system will also give relatives the chance to receive live feed of their kin's room, which they can access using their computers, tablets or smartphones.

Care Protect, the company behind the care system, offers to install cameras in the pharmacies, communal areas and bedrooms of care homes. The company, however, said that the cameras would only be switched on in rooms whose residents and their families have consented.

Secretly filmed incidents of abuse at the Winterbourne View and the Old Deanery care home in the UK have spiked an interest among relatives and care homes to use hidden cameras to track such incidences.

Authorities, however, said that setting up hidden cameras may intrude on the privacy of other people, with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) issuing guidelines to relatives who think of using surveillance technology to monitor the care given to their loved ones in care homes and hospitals. Care Protect said that their system abides by data protection laws and the CQC's guidelines.

Ann Willey, manager of the Bramley Court care home in Birmingham, which tried the system, said that although there was initial apprehension among staff and residents, the surveillance technology actually resulted in improved standards. She added that the footage is also used to train staff. As for the relatives of the residents, they were positive about the system.

"By adopting a transparent and independent review of images that may constitute 'incidents,' the well-being of adults and children is improved and they are better safeguarded and protected," said Care Protect founder Philip Scott. "This will contribute to the raising of standards and lead to greater confidence among service users and their families."

Photo: Vinoth Chandar | Flickr 

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