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CQC issues care home surveillance guidance

12 February 2015

The Care Quality Commission has today released guidance for the public on the use of covert surveillance to monitor loved ones’ care. It follows on from similar guidance issued in December 2014 to those providing social care services, in relation to the use of covert and overt surveillance. It sets out the CQC’s position that is unacceptable for care staff to refuse to treat or care for someone properly simply because they are being recorded doing so.

This guidance comes at an interesting time. The implementation of the new Fundamental Care Standards Regulations in April 2015 along with recent CQC announcements suggests a tougher and more targeted enforcement approach by the regulator. In bringing more cases before the courts, the products of surveillance could provide invaluable evidence and this guidance encourages families to provide recordings demonstrating poor care to the CQC in the first instance.

The December guidance strongly recommends that providers obtain expert legal advice and conduct a detailed ‘Privacy Impact Assessment’ before embarking on the practice. Well trained staff to conduct surveillance are said to be essential.

The new guidance for individual families places the emphasis on gaining the consent of the person whose care is being recorded or on ensuring that their best interests are being protected. However, with the potential for surveillance to impact on the privacy of staff and other service users, this guidance rightly recommends that care is taken by families in making the decision to record.

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