Call for cameras in nursing home rooms

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ELDER-abuse campaigners are calling for nursing homes to have cameras installed in rooms so relatives can see what’s happening to their loved ones and verify claims of neglect and abuse.
Representatives from Aged Care Crisis and Elder Care Watch said cameras in residents’ rooms may also deter staff from doing the wrong thing.
The call comes as new federal government data reveals 64 per cent of 1815 allegations of physical and sexual abuse in aged-care facilities last financial year were made against staff. Another 15 per cent involved allegations against another resident, 12 per cent involved unknown offenders and 4 per cent involved relatives.
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Of the 1815 reports, 1499 involved the use of unreasonable force, 284 were about sexual assault and 32 involved both physical and sexual assault. Aged-care facilities also reported 817 incidents in 2010-11 in which residents went missing, up from 745 the previous year.
There is no public record of whether the abuse allegations were substantiated or not, but a government spokeswoman said 90 per cent of missing residents were found within 24 hours and 99 per cent within seven days.
Carol Williams, from Elder Care Watch, said she believed cameras should be considered because many families were concerned about their loved one’s care and found the complaints scheme frustrating.
”People are often told it’s your word against theirs and the bias is towards believing staff members,” she said.
While the Aged Care Complaints Scheme receives thousands of reports each year, Lynda Saltarelli, from Aged Care Crisis, said it was impossible to track complaints about facilities and what steps they had taken to remedy them. This made it very difficult for consumers to know what was happening inside facilities.
”A home can be fully accredited with a perfect accreditation score, and yet unbeknown to the public have a blemished record of assaults, breaches of the Aged Care Act and substantiated complaints. None of that is made public,” she said
Gisborne nurse Jane Green said she wanted cameras in nursing homes after her experience of complaining about the abuse and neglect of her mother before she died this year. She said that although a former staff member at the Victorian nursing home confirmed her suspicions, an investigator from the Aged Care Complaints Scheme told her they could not do anything without camera footage to prove it.
Her mother’s death has been referred to the coroner and a government spokeswoman said the ACCS was still investigating the matter. ”My mother didn’t deserve to go through that pain,” Ms Green said. ”I find the lack of accountability mind-blowing.”
Chief executive of Aged and Community Services Australia, John Kelly, said he believed staff had the right to work without being filmed and said cameras would be an extreme response to the concerns of a small number of dissatisfied complainants. ”Most people feel they are given justice or procedural fairness,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Aged Care Commissioner said installing cameras would raise ”significant questions of privacy and consent by residents, staff and visitors, as well as trust”.

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