On Friday most newspapers carried the awful story of a 95 year-old woman with dementia whose family planted a hidden camera and recorded her abuse by two workers in a care home. The video can be seen on many online sites e.g. Daily Mirror I would counsel you to only watch it if you’re ready to be shocked, but also saddened in the extreme. I was shaking and had tears running down my face before the end of it, and I’m not prone to an excess of emotion.

Many of us will have to wrestle with the heartbreaking choice between allowing a loved-one to age at home, but at risk, and finding them a place in a care-home where they may experience neglect, or abuse.  This shouldn’t be the choice that we have to make. We’ve talked to care homes about the use of in-room cameras.  For example, Kraydel will have the ability to activate the camera based on sound/movement, or to be configured to allow select carers to remotely activate and view the room “peeking in the window” effectively. It will be obvious when the camera is on from the light-band on the front panel so it will be clear to all when video is being recorded and/or being viewed remotely. There are, of course, other products which provide these basic features.

In our experience care homes have one of two reactions to the idea of deploying Kraydel in this way. One is that it will make their employees feel they are not trusted, and it will raise the idea in the minds of families that their care home is not a safe place. The other is that this gives much needed security and confidence to families and that their workers will understand how necessary it is, and also welcome the protection that it gives them from false accusations of abuse.

To my mind, the second attitude has become the more justifiable position. To invert the saying about guilty men going free, in this case it is better that all care workers feel a little like they are being watched, than even one care worker feels free to terrorise a defenceless old man or woman. Care workers are under increasing, and in some cases unbearable pressure. They are mostly overworked, underpaid and perhaps under-appreciated, and that’s going to be more stress than some of them can handle – but those that can’t handle it need to be denied any opportunity to channel it into cruelty and violence.  Even the thought that perhaps there is a camera watching some of the time is known to reduce bad behaviour – whether in the streets, on buses or trains, or wherever. Let’s hope that this incident puts that thought into more people’s heads.