Cam­eras ‘not the an­swer’

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - FRONT PAGE - Tim Slater

A PRO­POSAL to use CCTVs to mon­i­tor peo­ple with de­men­tia after in­ci­dents of el­der abuse has been re­jected by Swan MHR Steve Irons.

A PRO­POSAL to use closed cir­cuit tele­vi­sion (CCTV) cam­eras to mon­i­tor peo­ple with de­men­tia in aged care fa­cil­i­ties, to en­sure they are not be­ing abused, has been re­jected by Swan MHR Steve Irons.

The move fol­lows rev­e­la­tions on the ABC 7.30 Re­port tele­vi­sion pro­gram last week of el­der abuse caught on hid­den cam­eras.

Se­na­tor Nick Xenophon warned that the shock­ing footage of an Ade­laide nurs­ing home res­i­dent be­ing abused by a carer could “be the tip of the ice­berg and high­lights the need for safe­guard mech­a­nisms to be ur­gently im­ple­mented, such as CCTV”.

But Mr Irons said the is­sue sur­round­ing the usage of sur­veil­lance de­vices was a mat­ter for the ap­proved provider and rel­e­vant care re­cip­i­ent. He said it was gov­erned by rel­e­vant state and ter­ri­tory leg­is­la­tion.

Alzheimer’s Aus­tralia na­tional pres­i­dent Pro­fes­sor Graeme Sa­muel said the “hor­ren­dous footage” in­di­cated a sys­temic fail­ure of the aged care sys­tem.

“It high­lights a fail­ing to pro­tect the ba­sic hu­man rights of some of our com­mu­nity’s most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple, many of whom ex­pe­ri­ence de­men­tia,” Pro­fes­sor Sa­muel said.

“It is easy to jump to the con­clu­sion that we need 24/7 mon­i­tor­ing through CCTV cam­eras in ev­ery aged care fa­cil­ity, but this is not the an­swer.

“We need to ad­dress the fundamental is­sues in the aged care sys­tem, rather than sim­ply cre­at­ing a sys­tem of com­pli­ance and mon­i­tor­ing, which could vi­o­late the pri­vacy of res­i­dents.”

Mr Irons agreed with Pro­fes­sor Sa­muel and said in­stalling CCTV would not be the an­swer.

“The health, safety and well­be­ing of older peo­ple who re­side in aged care ser­vices is im­por­tant to the gov­ern­ment,” he said.

“The right thing to do when a per­son is as­saulted in an aged care fa­cil­ity is for the per­son who is aware of the al­leged or sus­pected as­sault to no­tify the po­lice as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Mr Irons said un­der Com­mon­wealth law, aged care providers must bal­ance each care re­cip­i­ent’s right to pri­vacy and dig­nity with the care re­cip­i­ent’s right to live with­out ex­ploita­tion and abuse. He said if peo­ple had con­cerns about the care and ser­vices be­ing pro­vided, they should con­tact the Aged Care Complaints Com­mis­sioner on 1800 550 552.

Pro­fes­sor Sa­muel said it was un­ac­cept­able that there was cur­rently not a sin­gle pub­licly re­ported mea­sure of qual­ity in place for aged care in Aus­tralia.

“Un­til the sec­tor can en­force qual­ity mea­sures that fo­cus on qual­ity of life, rather than clin­i­cal out­comes, this type of un­ac­cept­able abuse will con­tinue to hap­pen and slip through the gaps,” he said.

Alzheimer’s Aus­tralia is work­ing on a sub­mis­sion to the Na­tional El­der Abuse In­quiry be­ing un­der­taken by the Aus­tralian Law Re­form Com­mis­sion.

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