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Hidden cameras and mystery shopper plan for care homes

  • @emilydugan

Hidden cameras and “mystery shoppers” could be used to keep tabs on care homes under proposals being considered by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Britain’s first Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Andrea Sutcliffe, will also announce today that if the Care Bill becomes law, the CQC will monitor the finances of around 60 of the biggest care providers.

Ms Sutcliffe outlined many of her plans for revising the regulations of social care – including the publication of care home ratings and the use of ordinary people in all inspections – in an exclusive interview in yesterday’s Independent. Today she will publish her ideas in full, in a signposting document ahead of a full public consultation in spring 2014.

In it, she describes how CCTV might be used to make services safer: “We would also like to have an open conversation with people about the use of mystery shoppers and hidden cameras, and whether they would contribute to promoting a culture of safety and quality, while respecting people’s rights to privacy and dignity.”

Davina Ludlow, director of the care providers guide, carehome.co.uk, said the proposals risked introducing a “big brother” culture of fear. “Whilst safeguarding is vital, so too is dignity and privacy,” she said. “We urge full and meaningful consultation before ‘digital spies’ infiltrate the care sector. Not only will covert surveillance impact on residents’ freedom, it may also have a knock-on effect on the motivation of staff.”

Norman Lamb, Care and Support minister, said: “No one should have to put up with substandard care - there are serious flaws in the system when people are worrying about the quality of care their loved ones are receiving. Confidence in the regulation regime has been shaken, but we have turned a corner.”