Belfast Telegraph

Call for CCTV in all Belfast care homes backed by councillors

Petition: Julieann McNally supports the introduction of cameras
Petition: Julieann McNally supports the introduction of cameras

By Lisa Smyth

Belfast City Council is to urge health officials to ensure CCTV is put into care homes across Northern Ireland.

The council is to write to the Department of Health asking officials to ensure privately-owned facilities providing care on behalf of the health service have cameras in place in communal areas.

SDLP councillor Brian Heading brought forward a motion, which he said he hopes will help to restore public confidence in the care being provided to some of the most vulnerable people.

The sector has been rocked by a number of scandals in the past year, including a damning report into conditions at Dunmurry Manor and allegations of abuse at Muckamore Abbey.

The proposal to write to health officials also came as a BBC Panorama programme revealed devastating abuse at a care home in England - uncovered as a result of covert filming.

Mr Heading said: "I don't believe that putting CCTV into care homes will automatically solve all the problems, but it will go some way in offering reassurance to families and residents.

"It will also provide some protection to staff as well.

"It's a very, very demanding job and CCTV should be there to help make sure everyone in these homes are comfortable, whether that is a resident, their loved ones or people working there."

The move has been welcomed by campaigner Julieann McNally.

She has launched a petition asking for the implementation of CCTV technology in local care homes.

Ms McNally is the granddaughter of a woman who was injured while living at Dunmurry Manor.

It was heavily criticised in a report by the Commissioner for Older People.

She is calling for cameras in all communal areas, at exits and entrances to help drive up standards and also provide protection to staff.

She explained: "My Granny Annie fell and was injured while she was a resident at Dunmurry Manor and we have no idea what happened.

"We have three different versions, from who found her and when she was found.

"If there had been CCTV in the corridor at Dunmurry Manor, we would have known who went in and out of her room and at what time.

"As it stands, we have to live with the fact that we will never know the truth about what happened to Granny Annie and that's a very difficult thing to accept.

"That's why we have set up our petition, because we believe it could make a real difference."

Mr Heading's motion was supported by all councillors except those from the DUP, which abstained.

The party's Brian Kingston said: "With the collapse of the Assembly, we are seeing more issues coming before the council that are not in our remit.

"We don't believe that this is an issue for the council, we believe it is for the Assembly.

"There are also a lot of complex issues that need to be considered around consent when it comes to bringing CCTV into care homes."

It is now almost one year since the Commissioner for Older People published his findings into conditions at Dunmurry Manor.

Eddie Lynch uncovered a litany of worrying failings at the home.

These included unexplained injuries, resident on resident sex attacks, and residents going for weeks without their medication.

In his report, Mr Lynch recommended that the Department of Health produce guidance on the potential use of CCTV cameras in care homes compliant with human rights and data protection law.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Health said: "The issue of compulsory CCTV in residential and nursing homes is complex and there are a range of opinions.

"While the Regulation Quality and Improvement Authority has produced guidance on the use of cameras in regulated establishments, it is presently up to individual providers to make a decision as to their use, following the appropriate assessments.

"The Department of Health is listening carefully to views expressed by stakeholders on this subject, and will provide policy advice to ministers in due course."

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