Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Candid camera

Katie Price of all people has highlighted the abuse that occurs in some nursing homes, and suggested they should all have cameras in every room so relatives can see what's going on and be sure everything's okay.

She says she knows what she's talking about because at one time she was a carer for the elderly in nursing homes. So she can tell the good homes from the bad ones.

"Sadly over the last few years we've seen too many cases of abuse in nursing homes - places that you trust to care and look after your elderly relations" she says.

Her solution is cameras - so everything is visible 24 hours a day and nothing untoward could escape the public gaze. Anyone could check on what's happening - not just relatives but social workers, doctors, or just concerned individuals.

"Some will say this is an invasion of privacy - I say it's helping protect those who can't protect themselves."

What would the residents think of having cameras everywhere, I wonder? Would they welcome such routine monitoring or would they dislike the intrusion into their daily lives?

My sister, who has MND, is in a nursing home right now because my brother in law, who usually looks after her, has just had a major operation. I'm assured she's happy there and has no complaints. But it would be especially reassuring to see everything on camera and be certain she's being well-treated.

The fact is that there have been some absolutely shocking examples of outright cruelty and neglect in nursing homes, behaviour that could have been nipped in the bud if those outside had been aware of it.

It seems to me that only those with something to hide would object.

PS: Some American states have passed laws to allow electronic monitoring in long-term care facilities. They include Texas, New Mexico, Washington, Oklahoma and Maryland. Hidden cameras have caught abuse three times in Pennsylvania - they recorded mocking, manhandling and slapping. There's an interesting article about cameras in nursing homes here

25 comments:

susie said...

I would hate to be watched 24/7...

Nick said...

Susie: So would I, but then I'm not in a nursing home and dependent on caring and compassionate staff.

Bijoux said...

I agree that cameras seem like a good idea. However, I'm guessing most of the abuse happens in the non-public areas, such as in the patient's room. I can't imagine having cameras in areas where the elderly are being changed and dressed.

Nick said...

Bijoux: I'm not sure if the ill-treatment happens in any particular area. But I'd certainly like to know what residents thought of the idea. They might very well think that a camera in their bedroom was worse than the possible risk of being badly treated.

Grannymar said...

Nick, I hope your brother in law is recovering well and that your sister is being looked after with good care and respect.

I would hate to have a camera on my every move, but then, I would have no problem with calling out or reporting anyone who was neglectful or abusive towards me.

I only hope I cock my toes before I get that far.

Nick said...

Grannymar: Well, that would be the ideal solution, that the residents raised merry hell if they were being treated badly. But I guess they're often too easy-going (or intimidated) to make a fuss.

Keith Smith said...

I too would hate to have a camera in my room watching every move. I wouldn't be able to pick my nose or scratch my wedding tackle without being embarrassed knowing that somebody somewhere was watching me!

I am a robot

Helen Devries said...

I'm not very tech savvy...but would there be a programme that only started working when someone came into the area deemed to be a risky one...and that the occupant could turn off afterwards?

Nick said...

Keith: Residents would definitely need a way of turning off the cameras if they were doing something they didn't want the world to see.

Helen: I was thinking the same. Residents could have an on/off switch in their private rooms and could just turn it on when there was someone else present.

Wisewebwoman said...

Alas, many are voiceless or have forms of dementia. I did a massive amount of research on elder abuse and breaches of privacy in one form or another are a major concern of the more coherent elderly.
I wish there were other forms of monitoring besides invasive cameras, they have so little privacy as it is in these places.
I hope your BIL gets well and your sister survives her stay in happiness and safety.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: Do you mean breaches of privacy by the staff or by cameras or by some other means? I think there are strong arguments both for having cameras and for not having them. Some people argue that closer links between relatives and staff would prevent abuse and the need for cameras.

Thanks for the good wishes.

Suburbia said...

I'd rather be watched than abused - neither is very dignified though - such a shame that our society has to hide its old people away

Nick said...

Suburbia: Very true about old people being hidden away. They should be part of the community, not isolated in care homes or sheltered housing. That in itself would reduce the possibility of abuse.

Jenny Woolf said...

A very good idea. And although many carers are extraordinarily good, the fact is that they are paid the most awful wages and treated badly. It could help a lot if they were paid a decent wage and expected to do a more professional job.

Nick said...

Jenny: The wages and conditions of professional carers are appalling. They're so often taken for granted and not given the high status they deserve.

Rose Blackthorn said...

When it comes time for me to be put in a Nursing Home, Boy is under strict instructions it must not smell of wee!

No, I don't think I'd like to be under scrutiny 24/7. I have every intention of misbehaving even at that age and there are somethings I wouldn't want documented.

When a woman wants to scratch her bum, it's her own affair.

Nick said...

Rose: A perpetual smell of wee would be most dispiriting. I think the idea of a bedroom camera you can switch on and off as required is good. A camera that was on continuously would be too inhibiting.

Rummuser said...

I think that it will be a very good idea to have CCTV everywhere pariticularly where patients with dementia are looked after. They are the ones mostly incapable of complaining and / or if they do, not believed and I have known two cases where only later we came to know that the attendants hired to look after them were abusing them.

Nick said...

Ramana: Well, opinion is very divided on this one! Good point about patients with dementia who might not be able to complain and could easily be abused with impunity.

CheerfulMonk said...

Of course, one form of abuse is to drug the patients to keep them manageable. I agree that one crucial test is the smell. If the place smells of urine the the patients aren't well cared for.

I also think it's an incredibly hard job and my heart goes out to the good caretakers.

Nick said...

Jean: Yes, I think the "chemical cosh" as it's often called, is quite common in Britain as well. An appalling practice.

You're right, it's a very demanding job and that should be reflected in much better pay and conditions - and appreciation generally.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Maybe it could be optional? Those who can give informed consent could choose for themselves and those with dementia would be monitored?

Nick said...

Agent: That's a very sensible approach. Though maybe there should also be mandatory cameras in communal areas where privacy is not an issue.

Liz Hinds said...

I wouldn't want cameras watching me all the time! Then again if I were old and mentally infirm enough to be abused I probably wouldn't care.

But why are some people so dreadfully unkind?

Nick said...

Liz: Indeed, if you were barely aware of your surroundings, then I guess 24/7 cameras wouldn't really be an issue. And yes, why are some so-called carers so uncaring? Perhaps there should be strict psychological testing to weed out unsuitable applicants.