Aged care CCTV trial an “unmitigated disaster”: SA-BEST

31 August 2022

The former Liberal State Government’s  woefully-planned aged care CCTV trial was today labelled an “unmitigated disaster” by SA-BEST. 

SA-BEST MLC and Ageing spokesman, Frank Pangallo - whose proposed Australian-first initiative to have CCTV cameras installed in the bedrooms of residents in South Australia Government-operated aged care facilities in 2018 sparked the trial – said the former Health Minister, Stephen Wade, and SA Health bureaucrats had botched the trial from the start. 

Instead of engaging UK-based Care Protect - a world-leading company renowned for its IP in monitoring aged care facilities and who was keen to undertake the trial – the government chose an Adelaide-based security surveillance company with no experience in the specialised field or the required technology. 

“The shambolic trial was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster,” Frank said. 

“It was like watching a train wreck about to happen and nobody was listening to the warnings, which SABEST warned the former Liberal Government would happen from day one,” he said. 

“The independent review stops well short of actually analysing the technology that was used. 

“It was totally un-tried and the operators spent more time trying to get it to work properly.” 

Frank said the former Marshall Government  accepted a $5000,000 grant from the Federal Government for the trial - which expected it to be used trialling a successful, UK system run by Care Protect. 

Instead a Working Group established by SA Health to oversee the trial hand-picked an Adelaide-based company with no experience in the specialised field of monitoring CCTV cameras in aged care facilities. 

Frank revealed Care Protect was so concerned about the process being undertaken by inept senior SA Health bureaucrats, that it pulled out. 

“Nobody in SA Health knew what they were doing and no one was actually watching the trial because there was no monitoring of the footage,” Frank said. 

“They wasted all the money and effort on an untried and unproven system that was bound to fail,” he said.

Frank said he hopes the bungled trial will not discourage the use of CCTV technology in aged care facilities in Australia. 

“The report falsely suggested there was limited research into surveillance technology when we know it does exist and is being used successfully in the UK,” Frank said 

“So it’s quite sloppy for PWC – the independent reviewers of the trial - not to acknowledge what is available and becoming increasingly popular in other countries around the world,” he said. 

“This exercise was a salient lesson in how bureaucratic meddling can destroy an initiative that greatly improve the standard of care in aged care facilities. 

“I will be urging the new State Labor Health Minister, the Premier and the new Federal Ageing Minister to keep on exploring the use of proven technology of companies like Care Protect. 

“Our most vulnerable citizens have been let down badly by this disastrous trial – and head should roll over.” 

The State Government today released an independent review into the trial which revealed a series of major flaws. 

These included:

  • More than 12,000 “false” alerts of events that were regular movements or sounds - rather than events of concern; 
  • The operators spend much of the first four months of the trial calibrating the technology; 
  • Staff members kneeling beside a resident’s bed – or getting a resident to undertake some exercises on the bed – triggered the alert, and; 
  • At least one actual incident where a resident fell was not being responded to after the alert triggered.
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