By Ian Henschke, Chief Advocate
Ever wondered what the CC in CCTV means? It stands for ‘closed circuit’ - generally, the material filmed or videoed is not broadcast or shared beyond the immediate location.
So, when the federal government announced a $500,000 trial of CCTV in five aged care homes, National Seniors welcomed the move as a good first step. Why is CCTV even needed in these homes and also in home care?
The Royal Commission has brought forward stories of abuse and neglect, many only brought to the public through covert filming using sophisticated and relatively low-cost closed-circuit camera technology.
Last year I was invited to a demonstration of a monitoring system called Care Protect at the South Australian Parliament. It’s been operating in the UK for four years. The Minister, MPs and people connected to the scandalous Oakden events also saw it. Aged care advocate Stewart Johnston arranged the demonstration. Noeleen Hausler was also present; she came to national attention after suspecting her father was being abused. She placed a camera in his room and captured the abuse.
We know abuse is happening across the sector both in for-profit and not-for-profit homes. The images are an indelible reminder of the need to act and not turn away.
It is not just about monitoring staff. St Basil’s Aged Care in South Australia has installed cameras. There was an horrific killing at one of their homes in 2012 when one dementia patient attacked another.
South Australia is discussing legislation for mandatory CCTV in communal areas and opt-in for private areas in aged care homes. Privacy and other fears could be dispelled by the new system. It is 24/7 monitoring by trained, qualified observers. It only uses police and security checked nurses and social workers who provide reports and feedback.
The system also allows for extra privacy such as when using a bed or commode. There is also the capacity to use pixilation and thermal imaging in bathrooms.
Cameras can be set to only record when someone cries for help. They can use infra-red redaction windows to block out personal care situations, like bathing or changing to protect privacy.
The system offered by Care Protect costs $22 per week, per resident and South Australian MLC Frank Pangallo says “This technology is world’s best practice in the care of aged and vulnerable adults. Had it been available, we may never have had the horrendous Oakden situation. Perhaps we may not have needed a Royal Commission.”