Swan MHR Irons says CCTV ‘not answer’ to elder abuse

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 well-being 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.