Surveillance cameras will target abuse of elderly in nursing homes

An elderly patient at a NSW nursing home is pulled by his tee shirt and later hit with a shoe by an aged care worker in a case in September 2018.
An elderly patient at a NSW nursing home is pulled by his tee shirt and later hit with a shoe by an aged care worker in a case in September 2018.

SA Health will install surveillance cameras in at least five of it state-run aged care facilities in a move to clamp-down on the abuse of elderly patients.

The government has committed $500,000 to a 12-month trial which will start in the second half of this year. It will deliver the program in partnership with Care Protect, a company which specialises in audio-visual monitoring systems in health and social care settings. 

Care Protect provides video and audio surveillance systems in residential care settings in the UK but this is the first time the smart technology will be rolled out in Australia.

The move follows numerous revelations of abuse in Australian nursing homes including shocking allegations of abuse at the SA Oakden Mental Health Aged Care facility.

"In the shadow of Oakden and the Commonwealth Aged Care Royal Commission, protecting South Australia's most vulnerable is one of my Government's highest priorities," said Premier Steven Marshall.

This CCTV pilot will strengthen the safeguards in place for our frail, older population, provide greater transparency than ever before and hopefully give loved ones greater peace of mind that their loved ones are receiving quality care.

SA premier Steven Marshall.

"This CCTV pilot will strengthen the safeguards in place for our frail, older population, provide greater transparency than ever before and hopefully give loved ones greater peace of mind that their loved ones are receiving quality care."

Federal Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, said it's evident that there are widespread concerns about the quality and safety of vulnerable adults across Australia.

SA government commits $500,000 to surveillance camera trial to prevent abuse of elderly nursing home residents. Image: Pixabay

SA government commits $500,000 to surveillance camera trial to prevent abuse of elderly nursing home residents. Image: Pixabay

"Covert filming by individuals has sadly exposed poor quality of care and malpractice in some aged care settings," Minister Wyatt said.

"The community has been asking for this and today we deliver an initiative which will result in stronger protections for our elderly residents, reduced adverse incidents and improved standards of care."

The technology detects excessive noise and movement and light changes, triggering an alert to a reviewer who can view the footage within seconds of an event happening.

All footage is stored off site in a secure and protected web-based setting and is monitored 24/7 by an independent team of highly experienced and qualified clinical experts.

South Australian Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade, said the trial will only be conducted with residents and families who have provided full informed consent.

"The Care Protect technology can allow for personalised access rights, so different people can view different cameras. Relatives of residents, a unit manager, through to senior staff responsible for a group of units would only be able to monitor footage within a clear framework," Mr Wade said.

"The resident is our priority - their care, their safety and their privacy. Should a resident not want their room to be filmed, the camera in their room will be disabled.

"SA Health will work closely with residents, families and staff to shape this important pilot."

The project is being funded through the Commonwealth Dementia and Aged Care Services fund.