A recent OnePoll survey has suggested that up to two-thirds of the public would be more likely to choose a care home for their loved one if CCTV cameras were in place to monitor the care provided. The survey of 500 people, carried out in October 2015, showed a preference for CCTV monitoring across all age ranges, with those aged over 35 feeling most strongly about its use. You may wish to consider the use of surveillance in your own service but, before you do, read on to learn more about the steps you need to take to remain legally compliant.
The CQC has already published guidance for providers considering the use of CCTV in its document ‘Using Surveillance – Information for providers of health and social care on using surveillance to monitor services’, which offers detailed guidance on the use of CCTV in compliance with the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Data Protection Act 1998. This document should be referred to by any provider before implementing any system for surveillance, in order for it to be acceptable to the CQC and for the data to be captured, stored and used legally.
- Assess the need. You should remember that the use of surveillance in care settings could impact on privacy, trust and working relationships. Prior to going ahead with any type of monitoring, you should assess whether the use of surveillance is justifiable and if the disadvantages of introducing such a system would outweigh the benefits.
- Consult with stakeholders. Before proceeding, consult with service users, families, staff and visitors about the use of surveillance. Without the involvement and consent of these people, you will not be able to implement an effective system.
- Ensure transparency. Covert monitoring should only ever be carried out as a last resort where there is an urgent and justifiable need and only for the shortest possible time. At other times, you should always ensure that everyone involved is aware of the nature of the surveillance being carried out, in order to maintain trust and co-operation.
- Manage data legally. Data collected must be handled according to the Data Protection Act 1998, with access given only to authorised staff. You will also need to implement policies for the storage, retention and destruction of data, as well as for dealing with access requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
- Keep records of your actions. Remember that the CQC may ask for evidence that you have taken appropriate steps before deciding to use surveillance. Ensure that you record your decision making and consultation process and retain records in relation to this to help avoid problems once your system is in use.