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Covert cameras: 

We advise people to raise concerns in writing with the care home and if no action is taken then to contact the CQC and the local authority. If these take no action, we then advise the use of covert cameras. 

The use of covert cameras continues to be the most effective method in exposing not only the abuse taking place but also the failures of the relevant authorities to act. We are completely in favour of individuals using covert cameras. 

As a whistle-blower who witnessed widespread abuse first hand I know that the use of CCTV would not have stopped the abusers, in fact it would be used as a defence by unscrupulous care companies and end up protecting the very worst abusers. The following cases are based on first hand experiences.

Case 1. EDNA 

Edna was administered doses of the anti-psychotic drug Chlorpromazine from illegal stockpiles. Her medication records were altered by hand and signed by two members of staff. Edna was legally prescribed 20mls of the drug but illegal doses of up to 180mls were routinely administered because a person who is drugged does not need care and attention.

This abuse was perpetrated by a “power abuser” (See Beyond The Facade By Eileen Chubb pages 303 to 310) for full details on the power abuser. The most effective method to stop this abuse would be a law that truly protects whistle-blowers, but no such law currently exists. Whilst we wait for such a law the use of a covert camera by a whistle-blower, as well as duplicates of the paperwork. is the only other method to stop this type of abuse. What happened to Edna was subsequently upheld by an independent pharmacist after whistle-blowers raised the alarm but it was not enough to save her. 

Had covert cameras been available for use by the whistle-blowers who knew exactly what evidence needed to be filmed, and had that footage been taken to the media, the abuse would have been stopped. 

What a CCTV camera would have captured 

A medication round.

Case 2. REG

What a covert camera would capture

Reg was completely reliant on staff to empty his Catheter. This did not happen and he was left at risk of infection. The bad staff would take him into the toilet and call him a nuisance and sometimes empty the bag. The power abuser would would take him into a toilet and not empty the bag. 

A whistle-blower or concerned relative could at this point have used a covert camera outside the toilet area to show the catheter was full. 

What CCTV would capture

A resident being taken to the toilet. 

Case 3. SUSAN

What a covert camera would capture

Susan was called “aggressive” and was said to be a risk as she lashed out at staff, and as a result she was prescribed sedative medication.

However whistle-blowers knew that a power abuser was bending Susan’s thumb back causing her to lash out. This assault was taking place under the guise of approaching Susan talking to her nicely by bending down in front of her and doing what look liked from a distance as gently holding her hands, only the whistle-blower wearing a covert camera could capture this and it would be difficult but could only be filmed by a human tripod. 

What CCTV would capture

Evidence that Susan was violent and needed the sedation her family had questioned. Evidence of allegedly good staff practice. 

I could list dozens more examples, the list is endless. The use of covert cameras across the world continues to expose and stop abuse of vulnerable people and the covert cameras’ greatest asset is that they are controlled by concerned staff and relatives who are gathering evidence of specific concerns. 

CCTV is easily by-passed by the worst abusers and the abuse is driven into dark corners.  

Cameras are a powerful tool in the hands of the right people and the safest hands are the people who care and who have no other motive or incentive but stopping abuse and keeping people safe. 

The CCTV industry are keen to claim that their cameras highlight good and poor practice, but as an eye witness to the worst abuse I know how the worst abuse is dressed up as good care.

We highly recommend BBC Panorama producer Joe Plomin’s book Hidden Cameras: