The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is today (Thursday 12th February) publishing information for families, carers and those who use health and adult social care services to help people make appropriate decisions on the use of hidden cameras, or any type of recording equipment, to monitor someone's care.
Commenting on today's information for members of the public, CQC's Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Andrea Sutcliffe, said: "We all want people using health and social care services to receive safe, effective, high quality and compassionate care. It is what everyone has a right to expect.
"Sadly, we know that does not always happen and the anxiety and distress this causes people, either for themselves or a loved one, is simply awful.
"For some, cameras or other forms of surveillance, whether openly used by services or hidden by families, are the answer. Others feel this is an invasion of people's privacy and dignity. Many don't know what to do if they are concerned.
"For more than a year we have been talking to people who use services, their families and carers as well as providers about this hugely controversial subject. They told us that information from the regulator would be helpful.
"We published information for providers in December, setting out the responsible steps they need to take into account when considering or already using open or hidden surveillance.
"Today's information for the public explains what people can do if they are worried about someone's care and the things they need to think about if they are considering using any form of recording equipment.
"I hope that this information helps the public to make the right decisions for them. But what I want more than anything is for services to always provide care that meets the standards we all expect so that the public can have confidence.
"CQC will continue to hold providers to account and take action when necessary to make sure that happens."
Beth Britton, Freelance Campaigner, Consultant, Writer, Blogger – and former carer to her father who had vascular dementia – added: "As someone whose father experienced a six-month period of poor care in a care home that led directly to his death, I look back on that time now and wonder if I could have done more to halt what was happening by using a method of surveillance.
"Many families face very difficult decisions and feel utterly bereft when they know of, or suspect, poor care but feel they cannot prove it.
"Surveillance is clearly only one option, and certainly won't be a route that every family wants to take, but given that different methods of surveillance have received some high-profile coverage in the media, information on this difficult topic is important, not least because it also sets out clear advice for families on who they can contact when they are worried about poor care."
Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said: "Cameras have helped to expose terrible cruelty and neglectful care and I welcome this new advice. Decisions about using surveillance are extremely difficult - there is always a balance to be struck between protecting people and respecting their right to privacy – but this information will help families to the make the right choice for them.
"We are committed to preventing poor care from happening in the first place and have introduced tougher standards for inspecting care services as well as measures to shut down those that aren't up to scratch."