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Nurse bodycam use: a benefit or a waste of resources?

Two leading mental health nurses discuss whether body camera use in healthcare is beneficial
Nurse with bodycam

In light of trial results suggesting that use of body cameras can reduce reliance on restraint, leading mental health nurses Karen Wright and Rachel Luby discuss implications for service users and providers

Look beyond the limited research

If we want to reconsider the use of body cameras, we need to look wider than the limited research done in mental health wards. We have to respect that the broader view is worth looking at, even though we recognise there may be limited transferability from other possibly non-clinical populations and their use of body cameras.

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In light of trial results suggesting that use of body cameras can reduce reliance on restraint, leading mental health nurses Karen Wright and Rachel Luby discuss implications for service users and providers

Picture shows nurse wearing a body camera. Could they reduce reliance on restraint in mental health nursing?
Picture: Callo

‘Look beyond the limited research’

If we want to reconsider the use of body cameras, we need to look wider than the limited research done in mental health wards. We have to respect that the broader view is worth looking at, even though we recognise there may be limited transferability from other possibly non-clinical populations and their use of body cameras.

In the main, the wearing of  bodycams has been the domain of law enforcers and those in positions of authority as well as those who feel vulnerable and wear them for self-protection. Cyclists and road users, for example, have used body cameras and webcams as a defensive action, usually to protect themselves when things go wrong.

To protect and empower all on the ward

Do we wish to adopt across the board a defensive, cover-your-back position? If we are to establish trust and to safeguard, protect and empower all those present on the ward, they should have the right and the privilege to wear a body camera and be given the resources to do so.

But I wonder how long it will be before someone says: ‘So and so is wearing a body camera. They must be paranoid.’ And, when they do, we should ask ourselves who we are talking about: the service provider or the service user.

Karen Wright is professor of nursing and head of the school of nursing, University of Central LancashireKaren Wright is professor of nursing and head of the school of nursing, University of Central Lancashire, and a member of the Mental Health Practice editorial advisory board

 

‘There must be transparency about purpose’

In terms of colluding or feeding into a delusion, I have found that cameras that look like cameras, by which I mean CCTV and those used more frequently by police and paramedics, don't seem to be viewed in the context of paranoia. It is more typical for items such as routers, or hearing loops to rouse suspicion around spying.

There needs to be transparency with regards to their purpose. Are they to improve accountability of staff? Protect them from false accusations? Provide evidence to courts of criminal damage, of violence and aggression? To increase safety? Provide a tool for learning from incidents? To make staff more aware so they can be proportionate in their response?

Privacy concerns also have to be considered from a human rights perspective when deciding who gets to see and download any available footage.

Another waste of NHS resources?

We need to know why cameras are being used and this information needs to be available.

Cameras can be unreliable and expensive. We are better off investing in staff training around conflict resolution or staff resources in general.

In a climate where having access to a reliable computer, radio, phone and alarm system is a luxury for many nurses, investing in cameras and the monthly cost of subscription services seems yet another waste of NHS resources.

 Rachel Luby is RCNi Mental Health Nursing award winner and senior nurse at the health-based place of safety and quality improvement project lead, East London NHS Foundation TrustRachel Luby is RCNi Mental Health Nursing award winner 2019. She is senior nurse at the health-based place of safety and quality improvement project lead, East London NHS Foundation Trust, and a member of the Mental Health Practice editorial advisory board
 


 

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