A final paper on the use of surveillance to monitor care in health and social care settings – and on proposed information to be given to the public and providers – is to go before the Care Quality Commission (CQC) Board next month.
A paper prepared for the CQC Board’s meeting this week (15 October) described the use of covert and overt surveillance as “an extraordinarily complex area with a significant number of issues and factors to be taken into account, both for families and providers”.
It highlighted how more people appeared to be making use of such recording devices, and the technology existed for them to do so.
“We think that we can set out information that will help people understand those complexities to help them to make decisions for themselves,” the report, written by Head of Adult Social Care Policy Rachael Dodgson, said.
It added: “It will also be helpful for our inspectors to understand the legal complexities so that if they are inspecting a provider employing such techniques they are clear on whether the right steps have been taken.”
The report highlighted how some people felt that installing a covert recording devices was the right thing to do when they were worried about the care of their loved one.
It also revealed that its inspectors were finding examples of providers who had installed overt surveillance.
The report said the CQC’s previous position of silence on the usage of surveillance was no longer tenable, and that it would be helpful if it published high level information.
Dodgson cited research which suggested that 90% of families supported the use of cameras but fewer than half of residents supported them.
“This demonstrates that where people have the capacity to consent in general they are not in favour of cameras,” she said.
A literature review was commissioned by the CQC to test whether or not there was evidence that the use of covert surveillance was effective in improving the quality of the service provided.
“The review concluded that there is no definitive evidence about when and when not to use surveillance,” the report said. “Therefore we believe that our position of neither encouraging nor discouraging its use and providing information to help people is supported by the available evidence base. We will publish this review alongside the final documents.”
Commenting after the board meeting this week, Andrea Sutcliffe, the watchdog’s Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, said: "Our thinking on this sensitive issue has been shaped by concerns raised by members of the public and providers who may be considering the use of some form of surveillance but want to do the right thing in difficult circumstances. It is clear that they would appreciate helpful information from us.
"I welcome the debate and discussion led by my colleagues on the Board. We will take the Board's views into account to make sure that we are responding to the anxieties expressed by people using services, family members, staff and providers."