Hidden cameras to monitor care homes under new plans
New chief inspector of adult social care proposes mystery shoppers, secret cameras and a 'mum test'
HIDDEN cameras and 'mystery shoppers' are among the ideas being considered to monitor care homes and agencies looking after elderly and disabled people. Annual inspections look set to be scrapped and replaced with a new "surveillance model", reports the Daily Telegraph.
The Care Quality Commission's new chief inspector of adult social care, Andrea Sutcliffe, published her plans today in a bid to transform the way care homes are inspected.
Sutcliffe has pointed to the example of television documentaries that use hidden cameras in bags and concealed on clothing to catch abusers, although she says the CQC would look at a "range" of ideas.
But critics have raised concerns about protecting the privacy and dignity of frail and disabled people.
Davina Ludlow, director of carehome.co.uk, said: "While safeguarding is vital, so too is dignity and privacy. We urge full and meaningful consultation before 'digital spies' infiltrate the care sector."
Ludlow also warned against creating "a big brother culture" where people are afraid to work in the industry.
Sutcliffe admits it could be "tricky" to balance checks on staff with protecting vulnerable people. "So we've got to have that conversation about what is right and proper and appropriate and what would be the safeguards if people were going to take it forward," she said.
The idea of 'mystery shoppers' has also been put forward, in which members of the public are primed to go into care homes and report back on their experiences. Hundreds of members of the public, including care home residents and their relatives, could be recruited to test the quality of service provided.
Meanwhile, inspection manuals are to be rewritten with a new emphasis on issues such as "kindness". Sutcliffe says she wants all inspectors to operate the "mum test", which means always asking: "Is this good enough for my mum?"
There are also plans to introduce a new simplified ratings system and more regular use of sanctions – including closing down care homes that perform poorly. ·