Surveillance cameras in aged care facilities

Surveillance cameras are installed for monitoring facilities, deterring criminal acts, and thwarting heinous activities. This technology keeps stores, businesses, and homes secure, which is also the goal of Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) for nursing homes.

OTA believes that cameras can play a big role in uncovering issues and calling out assaults happening in nursing homes, thus, they recommend their installation. Yet, meeting a balance between ‘right to privacy and dignity’ and ‘right to live in a safe, home-like environment’ must take place before this is executed.

Balancing Frameworks and Principles
The discussion between keeping the patients’ rights of dignity and privacy and right to live in a secure home-like environment is complex. For example, while movements are being monitored to ensure safety in aged care facilities, the installation of cameras might also mean intrusion intp patients’ conversations and private spaces.

In order for surveillance cameras to be approved, the provisions must agree with relevant State and Territory legislation. The Federal Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt expressed that Australian seniors must be of top priority and that compliance framework is in place to promote high quality aged care. He has committed to clarify the nuances around provision of surveillance to ensure smooth implementation.    

Protecting the Vulnerable
The recommendation to put up surveillance cameras sparked from an aged care facility abuse caught on camera. The report says that a suspecting family member planted a hidden camera in his father's room, revealing an abusive carer who was later convicted for the assault.

Since then, allied groups for aged care were in discussion of how they can keep the safety and welfare of aged care patients. OTA believes that video surveillance should also be present in private rooms as long as there is permission from families or guardians. They are to make sure that the elderly and vulnerable  are treated with respect and dignity with zero tolerance for all forms of abuse.

Dignity in Care
Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN) defined dignity as the concern with how people feel, think, and behave in relation to their own values and that of others. Treating someone with dignity means to respect and value a patient as an individual. In nursing homes, dignity is present and promoted when the physical environment, culture, behaviours, and attitudes of staff and patients are in sync.

In the context of privacy, NSW Health also stipulates that dignity and privacy goes hand in hand. The state of being apart from observation is important especially in times when patients are most vulnerable. Patient dying, restroom or catheter usage, and patient-doctor consultations are but a few instances where privacy must be upheld.

It is good to remember that it is still ‘everyone’s responsibility’ to ensure that no rights are being encroached upon, and that human dignity is not sacrificed. All of these should be done without compromising the safety and well-being of the elderly.