21/02/18 - Cameras in Residential Aged Care 

Key Points

  • Residential aged care is a safe environment for older people
  • Elder abuse is mostly perpetrated by family members
  • Surveillance cameras raise complex questions of resident and staff rights
  • Mandatory surveillance cameras in aged care are not a viable solution

The Aged Care Industry Association (ACIA) rejects the implication of a recent article by Vanessa De Largie on 19 February 2018 that elder abuse in aged care is widespread, and that mandatory surveillance cameras are the solution.

The Association, which represents aged care providers, said that elder abuse is unacceptable in every situation. The health and wellbeing of aged care residents is of the utmost priority to our members. But it is important that solutions address the problem, rather than risk making it worse.

CEO Luke Westenberg said, “Aged care facilities are one of the safest environments for an older person. The vast majority of elder abuse is perpetrated by those close to older people – including family members.”

“Aged care facilities are an important part of detecting and responding to elder abuse – they provide a regulated environment in which multiple people have contact with residents. Aged care providers work to create a safe and respectful home for residents,” Mr Westenberg said.

“Introducing mandatory surveillance cameras raises more problems than it solves. Surveillance footage must be viewed – by whom? If it is to be stored, how can that be kept secure? Will older people be recorded in their bathrooms? Abuse may take place in areas out of surveillance coverage. What about the privacy and dignity of residents who cannot provide their consent to a camera due to dementia? What about the privacy and rights of staff who do not consent to being filmed or whose judgment is impaired if they are reluctant to provide care on camera? It is not a respectful, or a viable solution for protecting older people.”

ACIA noted that one of the examples cited in the article relates to abuse in a hospital context – highlighting that elder abuse is not primarily an aged care issue.

“Criticising the good work every day by the thousands of workers in the aged care industry is not an effective way to prevent elder abuse; attention should be focused on addressing social isolation and skilling service providers (including staff) with the ability to detect early-warning signs of abuse.”

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