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Need for discussion about hidden cameras in aged care: COTA


The complex ethical, legal and privacy issues surrounding the use of CCTV cameras in aged care residents’ rooms need to be carefully teased out after a Four Corners investigation showed footage of an elderly resident being assaulted by a care worker, Australia’s aged consumer group says.

Part two of the ABC’s Four Corners special investigation into aged care aired on Monday night, this time containing videos of residents being slapped and forcibly pushed down on a bed as well as allegations of cover-ups and questions about whether some deaths could have been prevented.

Ian Yates

COTA CEO Ian Yates says there needs to be a careful investigation of the issues around having CCTV cameras installed in residents’ rooms, especially those put there by families or staff.

“The royal commission needs to tease this through,”  he told Australian Ageing Agenda. “We are not opposed to or advocating, we are indicating that there are really serious and complex issues involved in this.

“The use of hidden cameras, to which families and staff feel they have to resort to protect residents, involves complex privacy and other legal issues that the royal commission must help untangle so we can protect residents and at the same time respect their right to privacy in their own bedrooms.

“We’re not saying that they never should be used but we’re very hesitant about their widespread use.”

Traffic light system

COTA is also calling for the introduction of a ‘traffic light’ system of rating for aged care providers.

The system,  implemented in England by the Care Quality Commission, awards providers ‘red’ for a fail, ‘amber’ for a minor fail and ‘green’ for a pass. Exceptional performance is recognised with a star.

The Four Corners program also highlighted the need to get rid of the three-month window of notice given to providers for re-accreditation visits and introduce random, unannounced checks as soon as possible, Mr Yates added.

Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney, who attracted widespread criticism after his appearance on the first Four Corners series but says he will remain at the helm of the industry group, said some of the footage on last night’s program was “sickening” and deplorable.

However he said the more than 200,000 Australians currently living in residential aged care received high standards of care from “passionate and professional” staff.

Sean Rooney

Aged and Community Services Australia CEO Pat Sparrow described the stories as retold on Four Corners as “unacceptable”.

Both peaks expressed confidence that the new independent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, coming into force next January would drive improvements in Australia’s aged care system.

ACSA also said it looked forward to working with the aged care royal commission announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on September 16.

“Consumers, the community and providers all need firm but fair regulation that is both transparent and protects the principles of safety and quality of life.  Regulation that identifies and holds to account those who abuse and neglect,” Ms Sparrow said.

Approximately 3,000 submissions have been received on the terms of reference for the commission and they can continue to made until midnight tonight.

Nurses continue push for staffing ratios

Nurses meanwhile continued to use the airing of  Four Corners and the current high media profile of problems in the aged care system to highlight their national campaign for mandated staffing ratios in care facilities.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association said it visited eight aged care facilities in Sydney’s eastern suburbs last night to audit nurse-to-resident ratios and found an average of one-to-68. The poorest ratio was just one Registered Nurse to 84 residents.

“This is a sector whose providers profit over $1 billion a year, receives healthy government subsidies, large resident deposits and fortnightly part-pension payments, yet it still has no guaranteed staffing or reporting requirements,” NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes said.

A number of aged care providers were named in the last installment of the Four Corners investigation Who Cares, including Estia Health where a resident was filmed being assaulted by a former staff member.

The former care worker, Dana Gray, pleaded guilty to the 2017 assault in April and is serving 17 months home detention. Estia notified police as soon as it became aware of the allegations against Gray and dismissed her. In a statement last week Estia called for a national register of aged care workers.

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6 Responses to Need for discussion about hidden cameras in aged care: COTA

  1. Ben September 26, 2018 at 11:41 am #

    I believe technology can play a huge part in fixing the industry that’s why we should Use the technology at hand to help prevent abuse and neglect!

    Nurse call alert systems have the functionality through RTLS to show how long residents are left after activating a call, who attends the call and how long time is spent with the resident.

    This will also show how many times residents are visited or interacted by the care staff throughout a day. The system if programmed right will allow you to see if residents who are dependant on staff to be mobilised are being placed within the facility and left for long periods of time.

    I know the thought of having CCTV in the residents rooms is an invasion of privacy but if it was a thermal camera where no identity is shown then this could work and the identification would be know via the RTLS staff badges and resident tags.

    If an incident was to happen then you could trace back to the day it happened, check who attended the room via the badge and then with this information you can check the thermal CCTV footage of that day and times.

    I know this doesn’t stop the human side of this issue but it’s a solution and it’s available now.

  2. Kathryn Evans September 26, 2018 at 4:16 pm #

    Estia calls for a National Register of Aged Care Workers.
    What about a National Register of Aged Care Facilities!
    These Nursing Homes need to be staffed to comply with resident needs according to their care plans and person centred care which is offered by facilities and expected by residents and share holders but cannot be applied due to a severe lack of staff to apply it.

  3. Dave September 26, 2018 at 4:47 pm #

    It’s time all these peak body ‘experts’ (none of whom have any direct care experience) got back in their box. Their opinions are uniformed and their messages contradictory.

    ACSA and LASA have been actively campaigning against staffing ratios and 24/7 RNs for years. All of the peak bodies have made submissions stating that existing regulation is doing a fine job.

    Star ratings are just another way of avoiding detailed information being made publicly available. It’s disingenuous to cite the UK or USA systems as shining examples…their aged care is a mess too.

    Those of us who actually work in aged care don’t want any of the peaks representing us, let alone have them ‘working actively with the Royal Commission’.

  4. Peter Hicks September 27, 2018 at 6:42 am #

    I read a little while ago the personal carers should be registered as nurses are. If this did happen the carers would need to keep doing training and skills . I have been in the industry for over 18 years as a carer and other areas . Now I’m in the in home care area.

    Their is nothing in place for carers to upgrade their certificates.
    The biggest problem with the aged care industry is it’s growing faster that all the resources can handle and the government has been reducing funding for years which has not helped things either.

  5. Vicki September 27, 2018 at 11:45 pm #

    The problem I see in nursing homes is that anyone with 6 weeks certificate can get a job, their main reason is the money, not that it is much. But I see that they not in the job because they actually care, it’s just a job and brings in the money. I have been a carer for over 10 years and I am sick and tired of the bad care and lack of respect given to the residents by some of the carers, and if you complain to management you get no response and you are just a bully according to the so called carer. The government need to start to regulate and make it a lot more strict to be a carer and the right reasons people want to do the job. For a lot I have seen it’s just a job with the money coming in.
    I know when it comes that time my mother will never go into one of these places

  6. Rosemary Blayney September 30, 2018 at 6:13 pm #

    No this is an awful invasion of privacy. And very disrespectful to residents.this is not the answer,more education and supervision of staff

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