Do we need ‘spy cameras’ in our aged care homes?
With the latest ICAC report into the Oakden Older Persons Mental Health facility released this week, there has been a lot of stories in the media about whether we need cameras in our aged care homes to protect residents.
The idea of rolling out surveillance cameras in aged care is not new. Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) again raised the issue during the recent Senate inquiry into aged care abuse as a way to keep carers accountable.
It’s well-intentioned, but it does raise some serious issues.
While cameras would give some families peace of mind, the privacy and dignity of residents also needs to be considered.
Many residents are showered in the bathroom, but for those that are bed-bound or unwell, carers usually bathe them in bed.
The use of cameras in rooms also goes against the ‘home-like’ feel that many aged care facilities are trying to achieve as we move away from institutionalised models of care.
A question of privacy
It’s important to note the OTA submission says surveillance should only be allowed with the permission of residents or their families and guardians.
It’s also worth remembering that the majority of aged care facilities already have CCTV in public areas to monitor residents and their wellbeing – and are meeting standards on care and safety.
If you do have any concerns about your loved one’s care, raise the issue with the facility first. You can also contact the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner on 1800 550 552.
Certainly there is more we can do to keep residents safe. Currently there are no laws for mandatory reporting of elder abuse to police and other agencies by health professionals who work in aged care such as myself.
Better feedback to families on the progress of aged care complaints would also help to ease any worries.
Both steps could help to prevent another ‘Oakden’ – something we all want.