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CQC guidance on Care Home surveillance.

Official advice is to be issued by independent health and social care regulator the Care Quality Commission this autumn on how families worried about the care of elderly relatives should covertly film care home staff.

An information sheet explaining how to best undertake secret surveillance is to be issued by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in response to concerns about recent cases of ill-treatment by care home staff, some of which were brought to light by relatives’ undercover filming.

The CQC hopes that families’ vigilance will help maintain high standards of care for elderly and vulnerable people. The advice will also be aimed at care home managers who suspect malpractice and poor standards among their staff.

However, some fear that CQC guidance, suggested as a ‘last resort’ after a series of recent ill-treatment cases, may lead to criticism about a ‘Big Brother’ culture being adopted by care home managers.

Chief inspector of adult social care at the CQC, Andrea Sutcliffe said: ‘There have been a wide range of views on this subject, from those who think that cameras should have been installed years ago, to those who think I am the devil incarnate for suggesting it.’

In June, care home worker Daniel Baynes was jailed for four months after he was caught abusing Gladys Wright, 79, who had dementia, on a hidden camera installed by her son James.

Baynes and two colleagues, Tomasz Gidaszewski and Janusz Salnikow, were captured swearing at Mrs Wright and manhandling her at Granary Care Home,  Wraxall, North Somerset.

A month later, a carer, Faderera Grace Bello was jailed for ill treatment and willful neglect after Veronica Davis secretly filmed her prodding her mother, Bridget Rees, who also had dementia, in the face. /more…

Mrs Rees, a former nurse, was left with bruises after the ill treatment at the Mary Seacole Nursing Home, Hoxton, east London. Mrs Rees, 92, died in May following the mistreatment.

The news of the sanctioning of secret surveillance comes after a CQC survey found that choosing care for an elderly parent is one of the most stressful decisions families have to make.

Smaller families, longer life expectancy and later parenthood mean the number of ‘sandwich carers’ who have to care for, or arrange the care of, their parents as well as their children, is growing. About 2.4m Britons now have to juggle their responsibilities for both parents and children.

A total of 84 per cent of the 259 men and women questioned by CQC survey said that deciding how to care for an elderly relative had been very stressful, or quite stressful, putting it at the top of the poll of painful decisions.

Factors which lead to stress include whether elderly relatives are well enough to stay in their own home – or which care home will look after them best; financial worries, fears about care standards and guilt about putting a relative into a home.

Care minister, Norman Lamb, said: ‘Choosing the right care for someone we love can be an overwhelming experience. There is a vast amount of information to deal with and balancing that with day-to-day pressures can be really hard.’