Suffolk nurses to lead discussion calling for opposition to covert care home filming

Karen Webb, Director, Royal College of Nursing, Eastern Region

Karen Webb, Director, Royal College of Nursing, Eastern Region - Credit: Archant

A motion put forward by nurses in Suffolk urging a national body to oppose covert filming in nursing and residential homes will be debated next week.

Members of the county’s Royal College of Nursing (RCN) branch claim the use of cameras to secretly film staff in care homes will not stop the abuse of patients, despite a number of high-profile cases where relatives have revealed poor treatment of their loved ones.

The topic will be debated at the RCN’s 2015 congress in Bournemouth, where officials will be told that despite recordings leading to prosecutions, concerns remain over the privacy of patients who can not give their consent to the practice.

Fears will also be raised that those likely to carry out abuse on residents will ‘find other ways to cover up their behaviour’.

Gill Cooksey, RCN Suffolk branch deputy chairman, said: “A major concern about the use of recording equipment is around patients who lack the capacity to consent to its use.

“It may be hard for them to give consent so it falls to the family to consent for them, which may not be what they would have wished.

“Another concern is if these cameras became a way of monitoring care home residents remotely, acting as a substitute to staff having to go into their room. I would see that as neglect.” West Suffolk Hospital-based Ms Cooksey believes that if the use of recording equipment became widespread in care homes, it could be a matter of time before it is used in other areas, such as hospital and GP practices.

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She added: “As a manager, if I had suspicions about the standards of care being provided, I would be taking action to tackle that. Simply having cameras in a room would not be a guarantee against poor care taking place.”

Karen Webb, RCN Eastern region director, said: “Everyone delivering care to residents, whether in their own home or a care home facility, should have received proper training, be on a register and accountable and be properly supervised, supported and managed to ensure the safety of residents and themselves.

“There should be enough competent and well supervised staff on duty at all times to make abuse and neglect unlikely to happen.

“If profit margins and budgets drive those offering services in any sector then decisions about staff will be compromised.

“We need to ask ourselves as a society what those giving the care are worth in terms of respect, resources, pay and training if our most vulnerable children and adults are to be properly cared for.”

The Suffolk branch’s motion will be debated on Monday. It has also proposed a motion for nurses to discuss the provision of non-emergency ambulance services to NHS hospital and community clinic appointments.