The Supported Residential Facilities (Aged Care Facilities) Amendment Bill 2018 was put forward by SA-BEST’s Frank Pangallo who says he hopes the legislation will be “supported by all sides of politics” on the back of increasing community expectations and improved operational transparencies.
With no current laws governing the installation or operation of CCTV cameras in nursing home bedrooms, the Bill put forward by Mr Pangallo would make it compulsory for care facilities to provide an ‘opt in’ option where residents or their families can choose to have a CCTV camera installed in their private living quarters.
“These laws are way overdue, much needed, and have long been requested by residents and families of residents in aged care,” Mr Pangallo explains.
“CCTV cameras in bedrooms will give hundreds of family members peace of mind knowing their loved ones in aged care have that added level of security and protection.”
He adds that the security and protection offered by cameras could have played a vital role in preventing Oakden by acting as a “deterrent to, and detection of, criminal activity - with the information collected used in investigations and any subsequent prosecution.
“Oakden was a tragic and disgraceful blight on the aged care industry in SA and a sad and reprehensible chapter in the state’s history. It should never have happened,” he says.
“Given this Government’s desire to be a national leader in protecting those in aged care - I am hopeful my Private Member’s Bill will win the support of Parliament.
“Critically, the CCTV technology puts personal safety and the well-being of the elderly resident first.
“It has the capacity to create instant alerts to the facility if there is a risk to that person in the event of a serious or life-threatening incident.”
Oakden whistleblower, Stewart Johnston has welcomed the Bill, saying it's another crucial proactive step forward that we need to take as a state to develop best practice.
“Technology over and above just the usual CCTV… now affords us the ability to provide an absolute all-encompassing safeguard and level of care for our most vulnerable.
“Had this all been available and utilised, I am convinced Oakden would never have occurred.
“In believing this I feel it is imperative that we make this available immediately.
“To delay or do otherwise would be inconceivable.”
Family member of an aged care consumer, Noleen Hausler, has also applauded the Bill’s introduction following her own experience of secretly filming a horrifying assault on her 89 year old father in an aged care facility.
“This proposed legislative change will provide long awaited clarity and assurance to the consumer,” she says.
In previous discussions around the introduction of CCTV in aged care, Federal Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt has remained neutral, but admitted that when it comes to the welfare of senior Australians receiving aged care services, “nothing is off the table”.
Mr Pangallo further highlights that he would not have introduced the Bill if he didn’t think the appropriate level of CCTV technology was available to protect residents privacy - an issue that has continued to raise concern.
He cites “cutting edge” technology that costs about $20 per week per room that has 24/7 monitoring undertaken by an independent third party using trained observers, qualified nurses and social workers, featuring monthly reports provided to care providers as well as families of loved ones.