Apr 06, 2021

Is this the end of privacy for aged care residents? CCTV trial begins in Australia

Security camera nursing home

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. 

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  1. I think in light of many abuse claims, it would be best if this were introduced. It will also show/highlight abuse by family members, toward residents. As this was a problem with our own Mum, and a family family member. Appreciating how difficult it can be dealing with some disturbed personalities, with aggressive changes due to Dementia etc, staff can become frazzled. However, care of ALL residents, from each other, can be problematic without being concerned staff are cranky with residents. Most staffing levels are under par for incidents that arise, as it isn’t just meals showers toileting changing, it is far more complex. What is a normal day?
    For all these reasons, CCTV is needed. Also volunteers can be invaluable in lightening the load for all, often lifting spirits for everyone. I am so very thankful for all at Hammond Care, for their highly trained carers were amazing. Also as a volunteer, elsewhere had been a most amazing and rewarding time in my life, in an extremely well run Dementia Unit, where residents were treated as if they were your “much loved parent”. Exceptional love, and generosity of kindness and spirit.

  2. I think it reflects a poor understanding of the older person’s rights when it is suggested that they can be monitored by family or anyone for that matter without their knowledge. Is it OK for someone to monitor their mothers private activity simply because the older person is in a nursing home under the guise of protecting them. Once the streaming can be accessed this way there is no way to control the flow.

  3. Higher staffing ratios equals patient / tolerant staff equals NO abuse.
    15 years experience in aged care & community care & this is my observation.

  4. I believe that exposing elder abuse, and poor treatment are something that CCTV will inevitably expose the ugly side of.
    Surely privacy is not as important as the safety of elder persons.
    While all persons deserve to live in safe surroundings, it is imperative that among our most vulnerable members of society, live in safe and caring surroundings.

  5. It would be great if this was not required.
    Unfortunately this is required because the Regulator and Complaints system are both hopelessly bogged down in paperwork and lack leadership.

  6. It would catch alot of staff out particularly if they are rough during cares. But it would also show residents who are abusive to staff! Although I feel it would be used for other things as well. Everything can be exposed.like a Pandora’s box it will be used to catch out staff that they want out on little things. A real invasion of everyone’s privacy unless ofcourse there is some evidence that a particular resident has alot of bruising of late. But don’t forget. It could also be used for unions to prove that there are not enough staff employed in some places and expose this publicly.

  7. I think yes. Because my mum was in age care when they was locked for month and I can’t even understand how everything was happening with her. She was scared to talk and her arms was in bruised and she was scared when I was even touched her or hug her. What they was done??? I never will know. Thanks God! I listened her and changed her age care. And now after almost 6 months she started to go back to her self and I can see this is my mum. And in all this 6 month I didn’t see any bruises on her body and no one told me that your mum is crazy and have dementia and don’t listen her. So I think YES, WE MUST HAVE VIDEO CAMERAS, but check only if family or residents have complaints or worrying about safety love ones. I still don’t known what what they did to my mum, but I happy, that I stole her from old age care and now she is in new good age care, where they respect residents.

    1. Move your mother, if you leave a loved one in a facility that you don’t trust and suspect abuse then you are no better than the abuser. People must act on their feelings and just accept.

  8. YES! For peace of mind, rooting out abuse and being able to identify stressors and triggers leading to agitation and BPSD

  9. This is a typical knee jerk reaction and a step too far.
    I fully appreciate what the public are feeling based on what they have heard but if you consider the exact extent of the “neglect and abuse” you may think differently.
    The Royal Commission received around 6500 submissions, let’s assume every one was some form of neglect, let’s also assume that every complaint was about nursing homes… but it wasn’t. There are roughly 260,000 elderly people living in residential facilities that equates to about 2.5% of residents. Let’s assume that all the complaints are genuine and reasonable… but they weren’t… Then while we should strive for 100% satisfaction the reality is that some people will always feel under loved.
    I say well done to Residential care and it’s staff, excellent results in a sector that has been underfunded and insulted for 10 years.

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