The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has agreed to publish guidance around using hidden cameras to monitor care, following a public board meeting this week.
The inspectorate will set out issues for relatives and providers to take into account before installing cameras in a care home or domestic setting, amidst debate around whether covert or public surveillance is ethical.
The information for the public will recommend families consider whether the care receiver has the capacity to consent before using hidden cameras, and if not whether covert surveillance of their intimate care is in their best interests.
In a separate information document for providers, the CQC will make it clear providers must also consider the wellbeing of their staff and the impact of being recorded.
CQC chief inspector Andrea Sutcliffe said: “I hope the information we publish will help the public make the right decisions in difficult circumstances.
“I am clear that any form of surveillance cannot be seen as the only way to ensure people are receiving safe, high-quality and compassionate care.”
Care minister Norman Lamb said he welcomed the new guidance, referring to settings like Winterbourne View where cameras have been used to expose cruelty and neglect.
He said: “There is always a balance to be struck between protecting people and respecting their right to privacy- but this information will help families make the right choice for them.”
The CQC have spent the last year gathering opinions from service users, families and providers which they say will inform the published guidance.