Security cameras in aged care is a complex debate between safety and security and the residents’ right to privacy.
One of the biggest arguments for camera installations is that it protects residents from elder abuse – as they would catch footage as evidence in what would otherwise be a case of the carer’s word against the resident’s.
But in a unique case, security footage has cleared two aged care workers of any wrongdoing.
The two staff members, Luz Ando Freeman and Glenda Lua, were sacked after they were accused of assaulting an elderly woman with dementia.
Ms Freeman and Ms Lua stood trial in the Perth Magistrate’s Court this week for the alleged assaults that occurred between late September and early October, 2016.
Ms Lua was facing five charges while Ms Freeman faced seven charges. It was alleged that the two workers forcefully pushed the resident into her bed, and one time threw a teddy bear at her face.
The camera was secretly installed by the resident’s son after 92 year old Jean Robins kept repeatedly falling off the bed.
“Deep in my heart and in my mind, I know I did not harm Ms Robins,” Ms Freeman said in her defence.
“I did my work to help her and settle her in bed.”
In a contrasting angle, security cameras also have the power to protect carers and aged care staff who have been accused by the residents and their families.
During the trial, the Magistrate said that the evidence did not convince him that Ms Freeman has “deliberately struck” the resident, and while they may have been “a little bit careless”, it was not considered assault.
And that the force was not “so excessive as to warrant a criminal conviction for aggravated common assault”.
Ms Robins, as a resident, was described as an “enormous challenge” as she could behave in an “erratic and unpredictable” way at times.
Ms Freeman told police Ms Robins was “very aggressive” and she had been scratched, hit and spat on by her.
“Ms Robins’ behaviour seemed to be worse at night time when her medications were wearing off,” said Magistrate Smith.
“Early in the day there were three carers to look after her, but in the evening when her behaviour was worse, there were only two carers.
“I accept without hesitation that the carers who had to look after her at night time would be run off their feet.”
“The carers had to do the best they could and cope with the situation as best they could.”
In regards to the “thrown” teddy bear, “I’m not convinced that Ms Freeman deliberately struck Mr Robins with the teddy bear … as opposed to quickly and perhaps a little bit carelessly arranging things before she left,” the Magistrate said.
Both women were cleared of all charges, with Ms Lua being awarded $17,000 for her legal costs while Ms Freeman received $20,500.
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