Safety Monitoring in Signature Care Homes
And in the Industry at Large
The care sector is tightly regulated, closely monitored and heavily invested in the formulation and maintenance of effective safeguarding processes. The Care Quality Commission (or the Care Inspectorates of Scotland and Wales) provides external oversight and accountability for all care homes, and is complemented by mindful attention to safe recruitment processes. Increasingly robust values-based recruitment programmes with employment reference and Disclosure and Barring Service checks are essential to the process of building a great team, but assembling this team is just the start.
Across the sector there is increased investment in carer training and development, especially with regards to dementia-specific knowledge and understanding. Alongside detailed quality-assurance programmes and proactive home and regional managers, new applications for existing technology are being leveraged to provide peace of mind for residents and their loves ones, ensuring enhanced safety and the provision of appropriate care.
Our endless journey of improvement led us to Jayne Connery (founder of Care Campaign for the Vulnerable), a thought leader in the field of care home safeguarding. In consultation with Jayne, we developed a trial programme centred around the installation of safety monitoring cameras in our dementia residents’ bedrooms.
Our policy enables the loved ones of residents in our pilot home, Signature at Reigate Grange, to request the introduction of safety monitoring in a resident’s bedroom. Families may then review the recorded video footage for their loved ones on request. Of the 20 families offered this technology, 20 opted to participate and as our trial nears conclusion, feedback from residents, families and colleagues makes clear the effectiveness of the system.
Not only will this safeguarding technology remain at Reigate Grange, we are currently working to introduce this system across all of our care homes and predict that the industry as a whole will ultimately adopt this model. To this end, we enthusiastically support Jayne’s mission to make a mandatory requirement for care homes to offer all residents and families the option of having safety monitoring in their bedrooms via an opt-in scheme.
As part of our pilot, and to ensure complete transparency, we are working with Care Protect, an organisation which independently monitors footage using randomised human review by care professionals. They also have AI enabled, always-on content analysis that is capable of automatically identifying the markers of a potential incident, for example raised voices, in close to real time.
While the core focus of this programme is safeguarding and accountability, the data we have collected has also helped deepen and enrich our carer training programmes. The provision of care is deeply nuanced and necessarily sensitive to the specific and often complex needs of individuals. No training programme can comprehensively cover every possible scenario. The effectiveness of direct review has been consistently proven in other fields, but has particular importance in the training of care professionals, allowing a far broader range of scenarios to be included in training programmes. Personalised coaching based directly on recorded situations helps to equip care professionals with both the specific knowledge required to perform their best in identifiably similar situations, and the awareness and analytical ability to approach more novel situations with confidence and sensitivity.
There is always more to be done by those of us committed to pushing the envelope; it is our opinion that the wider adoption of safety monitoring should be considered a key goal of the social care sector going forward. The process of pushing for broader change is intimately related to the further development of best practice in rollout and application, including equipping homes to take advantage of this new concept and exploring how the Government can help meet the costs of installing the technology if a universal rollout was mandated.
Care Campaign for the Vulnerable has long called for safety monitoring in care home environments, with founder Jayne Connery often highlighting the previous pushback she has experience, as well as the need for forward-thinking organisations to carefully plan their implementation. Over CCFTV’s many years of operation, the argument has consistently been made for overt (visible) camera systems to safeguard residents and ensure transparency and accountability. During this period, only a handful of care providers have acted.
CCFTV visits homes, meets with systems providers, and assesses the many and multifaceted options for safety monitoring provision. Jayne highlights that safety systems should be independent in operation, and monitored by experienced and suitably qualified individuals who are well-equipped to identify problems. These systems should in turn have legal opinion support, backed by an accompanying bible of documents to meet the requirements of written consent, privacy, data protection, operational policies and randomised audit services.
Monitoring systems, CCFTV identifies, are best introduced in a context of universal transparency in which all parties have been fully informed. As such, those who provide and manage hardware installation and monitoring should be willing to provide system demonstrations for residents and their loved ones, staff, service commissioners, and more broadly to any other stakeholders.
Confidence, transparency, and accountability are the core tenets of this system and so it is crucially important that staff see evidence-based examples of how safety monitoring has improved the resident care experience. These systems also serve to protect staff in the event of serious problems arising, ensuring that those responsible are properly held to account without their actions being seen to taint the integrity of staff who are not at fault.
Jayne stresses the importance of providers not attempting to rollout self-managed systems without proper professional oversight and support. In these situations, retroactive review is generally the only meaningful service, preventing the system from being effective in ensuring resident safety and limiting its use as evidence during internal review in any situations where serious problems do arise. In the same vein, CCFTV warns of the risk that self-managed systems may result in the non-disclosure of data in certain situations, including a lack of transparency within internal management teams.
By contrast, professional monitoring companies have the capacity to install fully-managed systems or offer tech rollout supported by an affordable menu of additional services which can be purchased when required. Support from an independent company capable of remote auditing at any time of the day or night is a huge asset to any care home seeking both overview and specific data to understand what’s happening in their homes at any given moment.
As CCFTV continues to urge care providers to commit to the adoption of safety monitoring systems, we proceed to apply what we have learned at Reigate Grange in the effort to introduce this increasingly robust and nuanced safeguarding concept to all of our homes, ahead of but very much in line with the evolving best practices of the industry.