After years of discussion and debate, Australia’s first trial of CCTV cameras in aged care rooms is kicking off in South Australia.
Following the findings of the Royal Commission, two facilities are piloting the program, aiming to reduce and hopefully eliminate cases of horrific elder abuse that were brought to light during the hearings.
Originally announced by South Australia two years ago, the trial involved five state-run facilities, but has now been reduced to just two. Cameras have been installed in Mount Pleasant District Hospital’s aged care home in the Adelaide Hills and Adelaide’s Northgate House.
CCTV footage has been very useful in exposing the abuse of vulnerable older people.
For the trial, CCTV cameras are set up to detect excessive noise and movement, alerting a reviewer to monitor the footage and check if an incident of abuse has occured.
According to South Australian Health Minister Stephen Wade, the delay in starting the program came because they were investing in the “best possible product.”
“We are investing primarily in the quality of the product – that did mean we are using fewer sites – but we are still confident that the basic value of the technology will be able to be properly tested throughout the two sites,” Wade told the ABC.
In 2019, Aged and Community Services Australia released a policy position paper supporting the installation of surveillance cameras in aged care facilities to better improve the quality of care for residents.
“ACSA endorses the ethical and lawful use of surveillance in residential aged care where reasonably necessary to protect the safety of residents, and where it does not unreasonably impinge, or render unbalanced, their rights under the Charter of Aged Care Rights, or undermine the rights of staff. It is important there are clear policies, procedures and governance processes in place regarding surveillance, taking into account jurisdictional considerations,” the paper said.
“Responding to the risk of elder abuse in residential aged care may involve a range of strategies including the use of surveillance to ensure the safety of residents. The use of surveillance involves balancing safety with other rights, including privacy and dignity.”
A recent HelloCare article about CCTV in aged care sparked lively debate.
“There would be no privacy, having two staff in the room with a resident/s would be a far better option,” said one commenter.
“Maybe the staff should be made to wear body cams. As bad as it is, at least any abuse would then be caught and residents wouldn’t have to have cameras in their rooms 24/7,” said another.
Others supported the idea, with one commenter observing, “CCTV footage has been very useful to expose abuse to the vulnerable elderly. With consent from those who may be hesitant, absolutely have cameras.”
Another commenter said, “I would have no hesitation in giving my permission for my mum to have CCTV in her room at ACF… Let residents have CCTV in their rooms if they give their permission. If you don’t want cameras in your room, you don’t have to have them. Live and let live. CCTV will be a huge deterrent towards abuse and poor behaviour.”
What do you think? Should CCTV be installed in aged care resident’s rooms? Let us know in the comments section below.