The mistreatment of elderly and vulnerable people in care homes is an issue which has once again reared its ugly head, as a Panorama programme aired in April 2014 and showed undercover filming of a number of distressing incidents at a care home in Braintree.
Shortly after the programme hit the headlines HC-One, one of the UK’s largest residential care providers, announced a consultation on the installation of visible CCTV cameras in all of its care and nursing homes, in order to “prevent abuse and neglect of vulnerable elderly residents”.
Although a ComRes poll showed 80% of 2000 adults surveyed supported the installation of visible cameras in care homes (it makes you wonder what percentage of care home residents support it, or if anyone bothered to ask them) anything involving CCTV immediately raises even more difficult issues surrounding the privacy of both care home residents and staff, and the practical aspects of CCTV coverage – will each care home have someone watching every camera 24×7? Or will video footage be recorded and only called upon when an issue arises? How will the dignity of very vulnerable residents be protected?
It also raises questions, and possibly opportunities, for providers of care home insurance, many of whom have left the market over the last 18 months, or reduced the cover offered by their care home insurance policies, as rising claims have made the sector unprofitable. Claims of abuse by residents, and personal injury by staff, can rarely be substantiated, and a high percentage are thought to be fraudulent, or frivolous, or both.
The widespread use of CCTV in care homes could have the side effect of massively reducing fraudulent insurance claims, provided the CCTV evidence is made available to insurers. This in turn could bring insurers back into the sector, and create a more competitive market and cheaper insurance policies for care home owners.
Will insurers have the right to view CCTV footage in order to process or reject a claim? I’m not a lawyer, but a 2008 amendment to the Data Protection Act does give any individual the right to both view, and have a copy of, any CCTV footage in which they are captured. Notice the individual has the right, not the insurance company, but you’d have to hope that anyone making a claim where CCTV footage is available would be willing to submit the footage to help prove their case.
Equally I can foresee lawmakers insisting that a claimant should not be forced to submit footage in support of a claim, so this is something that will probably only be sorted out by legal wrangling and a “test case” in the future.
In the meantime Brents Insurance continue to offer a wide range of care home insurances in the market, working with a panel of specialist insurers to provide affordable policies for care home owners in Brentwood and across Essex and if you would like to talk to me about this or any other issue affecting the Care Home Sector feel free to get in touch.
Stuart Hulbert ACII
Chartered Insurance Broker
Joint Managing Director