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Crisis in confidence

In April this year, the BBC’s Panorama programme broadcast its second exposé of abuse in care homes, featuring sickening footage from secret filming.Just days before, HC-One, the third largest care home provider in Britain and owner of one of the care homes featured in the programme, announced it was to carry out a consultation on installing visible CCTV cameras in all of its care homes.Its chairman, Dr Chai Patel, said the footage showed “shocking and distressing failings. We do not tolerate this kind of behaviour and we remain deeply sorry to the resident and their family. As soon as we became aware of the situation we took immediate action.”HC-One said that it had conducted a survey which showed 80% of the public would support such a move. The consultation would cover installation of cameras in communal areas and offering residents and relatives an opt-in scheme where they could request to have cameras in their rooms. If it goes ahead, HC-One will be the first care home provider to implement this kind of scheme.Is this a knee-jerk reaction? Or the future for care homes?Both the Care Minister Norman Lamb and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the adult social care regulator, have said that there could be a case for considering the use of surveillance cameras in care homes.In fact, a public consultation by CQC – “on how we regulate, inspect and rate services” – finished on 4 June and contained questions on the use of CCTV in adult social care.CQC chief inspector Andrea Sutcliffe, in a recent interview with Community Care, explained:“We’ve asked some very specific questions around mystery shoppers and CCTV because as I’m sure you can imagine this is an idea has flushed out a lot of opinions.“There is a huge range from some people who said ‘Why weren’t you doing it yesterday?’ to some people who think I’m the devil incarnate for even mentioning it and a huge majority within that who say ‘we can see there might be some circumstances but how do you make sure people’s dignity and privacy are respected?’”Of course, no-one is suggesting that CCTV is the solution to all the problems. The results of the consultation are due out later this year and will cover many aspects of improvements to how the CQC operates.But what about public confidence in the social care system? As Andrea said about the Panorama programme, “I feel very angry on behalf of the people who were affected, but also angry on behalf of the people who do do a good job because everybody then gets tarred with that same brush.”The abuse and neglect overshadows the fantastic work of thousands of dedicated care workers.A very public way for social care providers to pledge to deliver quality services is the Social Care Commitment.Hundreds of employers – including Mears – have signed up. The Social Care Commitment is an agreement between employers and employees to develop skills and deliver improvements.It focuses on values, attitudes, behaviours, skills and competence – things that employers are already assessed on, but this is the first time employees have been asked to make the same commitments.The Social Care Commitment is far from empty promises, using the information provided by companies to draw up developmental plans and set tasks. The list of registered companies is available to the public through the NHS Choices website.By signing up, employers and their workers are pledging to deliver high quality and consistent care – and, by doing so, improving public confidence.The Social Care Commitment's primary purpose is to ensure public confidence that people who need care and support services will always be supported by skilled people – who treat them with dignity and


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