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Health Minister Robin Swann to consider CCTV in care homes

Swann is urged to act after series of scandals

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Dunmurry Manor in Belfast

Dunmurry Manor in Belfast

Health Minister Robin Swann

Health Minister Robin Swann

Dunmurry Manor in Belfast

Health Minister Robin Swann has said he will give "due consideration" to the introduction of CCTV in care homes.

It follows a series of controversies involving facilities in Northern Ireland.

Last year Belfast City Council called for cameras to be provided for in any contract made with a private home that cares for the elderly.

In an Assembly question, DUP MLA Paul Givan asked Mr Swann if he intends to bring forward legislation that will provide CCTV in care settings.

A report published in June 2018 raised serious concerns over the way Belfast care home Dunmurry Manor was managed, and highlighted harrowing conditions, including residents going weeks without medication or being left with horrific bed sores, resident-on-resident sexual abuse, and shocking weight loss of residents.

It emerged health trust officials had concerns that the conditions at the home amounted to institutional abuse.

The Commissioner for Older People Eddie Lynch was assisted in his 16-month investigation by three experts in nursing, safeguarding, human rights, and regulation and inspection.

Interviews were conducted with 119 witnesses.

The subsequent report revealed that, in October 2016, "a HSC trust official suggest[ed] that Dunmurry Manor be referred to the PSNI for institutional abuse".

Responding to Mr Givan's question, Mr Swann stated: "Registered care home providers must comply with all current guidance and any relevant legislation, including the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act, when giving consideration to the use of CCTV in care homes.

"In response to both the COPNI Home Truths report and the upcoming independent report on Dunmurry Manor Care Home, I will give due consideration to the provision of CCTV in care settings."

Belfast City Council wrote to the Department of Health last year asking officials to ensure privately owned facilities providing care on behalf of the health service have cameras in place in communal areas.

Mr Givan said CCTV could provide reassurance.

"The Commissioner for Older People's report into Dunmurry Manor was the first time that office used its statutory powers of investigation to examine an issue," he said.

"Given the issues highlighted there and the concern everyone must have for the individuals and families affected, it is vital that the recommendations within the report are given proper consideration.

"Such abuse must be prevented in the future and the usage of CCTV could provide reassurance for families in the future."

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