The ethics of using cameras in Care Homes

The use of cameras in care homes may seem an obvious way to increase resident safety.

But it is a highly controversial strategy and fraught with difficulties, both ethical and practical.

Should cameras be used in Care Homes to protect vulnerable patients?

Should cameras be used in Care Homes to protect vulnerable patients?

How can cameras be used in a Care Home whilst still protecting privacy?

At the Royal College of Nursing Convention in 2015 80% of delegates backed the resolution opposing “the use of covert video and audio surveillance and recording in nursing and residential homes”.

Yet despite this there seems to be a high level of public support for using cameras in care homes.

For example; According to ComRes’s (2014) survey, 80% of adults in Great Britain “support the installation of visible cameras in care homes”, while 87% of relatives of residents in HC-One care homes favour “an opt-in scheme for visible cameras” (HC-One, 2014).

Concern about protecting vulnerable people in care homes is very high; especially as reports of abuse appear with terrible regularity.

However many health professionals feel that the use of camera technology , either covert (hidden) or overt (in plain sight) is a step too far. Whilst some may dismiss their concerns with the ‘if you’ve nothing to hide then there’ s no reason to object’ argument, there are actually many problems that need to be addressed.

A lot of work is currently underway to address the core ethical issues of data protection (who can get access to the cameras), privacy, and consent (how do you obtain assured consent from someone with failing faculties?).

So it seems likely that there will be more use of cameras in Care Homes.

But is this a good thing? And what safeguards need to be in place?

comments-squareWe’d very much like to learn your views on this difficult and important issue. Please leave any thoughts you have in the comments below.

Here’s some further reading;

Relatives to be given guidance on use of cameras

The ethics of using Cameras;

Petition for CCTV in all Care Homes

Another petition

The comments to this article are well put, and very moving

If you are worried about a friend or relative in a Care Home and want a free confidential chat we’re always happy to talk: Contact us on 01535 958778 or use the form on the right, on We guaranteed to contact you on the day you contact or if the message is left overnight first thing the following morning.