CamdenNewJournal

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Relatives of dementia patients use CCTV-style cameras to monitor loved ones around the clock

'I’ve switched it on and seen her fall over so many times - and then I can just go round and pick her up'

16 May, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Sean Deodat checking on his phone

CARING for an elderly relative with dementia can be overwhelming and the constant worry about leaving them alone extremely stressful.

Has your mother, who looked after you all your life, fallen over and cannot get up?

Are the carers, who comes for an hour or so a day, doing what they are supposed to? Sean Deodat, who lives in Maitland Park, set up CCTV-style cameras inside his home around six years ago to keep an eye on his mother, now 81. Using technology linked to the internet he is able to check on her when he is not at home.

Mr Deodat, 42, said: “Our aim is to give people in exceptionally demand­ing situations, an element of freedom, flexibility and peace of mind.” Mr Deodat had to give up his job at the Discovery Channel because he was constantly having to leave to check on his mother, a former nurse at King’s College London.

It is a familiar problem for a growing number of Camden residents. There are an estimated 1,700 people diagnosed with dementia in the borough who will be looked after day to day by their families. Not always aware of the danger, Mr Deodat’s mother would often try and move about and fall over. Sometimes she lay on the floor for hours, unable to push the panic button or use the phone.

Mr Deodat said: “She used to have a Careline button but she is at the stage now when she wouldn’t know to push the button if she fell over.”

He said: “I’ve switched it on and seen her fall over so many times. And then I can just go round and pick her up. Also, I can see if she hadn’t moved for a long time from one position, or the other. If they gave out awards to cameras, it would have got the Victoria Cross by now.”

Typically, the state will fund carers for a couple of hours a day. Often carers, who are hired through private agencies, would arrive late or not do the things they were supposed to.

Mr Deodat said his care agency was a little alarmed by the cameras at first but that after a while they came to an agreement that they could stay. In terms of privacy, Mr Deodat says the care agency asked that the cameras are covered when the resident is being washed or changed.

He said: “That’s fine as, if something bad happens, I can see what things were like before, and after. “It’s sad to say but often the carers are part of the problem. I know they are low-paid, and that is probably the reason for lots of the issues, but I’ve had them leave the oven on, leave the door open with the key in the lock, given the wrong tablets. Sometimes they arrive late, leave early. There is a problem with speaking English. “It’s the audacity of what is going on sometimes. The cameras are a good way of checking what they are up to.”

Mr Deodat says the system has given him peace of mind and is ethical as long as people are told they are being filmed. The camera is constantly streaming to a website that is accessed using a password so he can see what’s going on in your home from a laptop, PC or your phone.

Mr Deodat said he had installed the devices in several homes for the Camden Carers Dementia Group. Judi Oshowole, who cares for her mother in Belsize Park, said the system made her “life more relaxed and less stressed especially while away from home”.

Mr Deodat is working with his former colleague Steve Mendoza, a technician on the Discovery Channel, to set up the cameras in people’s homes. He added: “It depends on how many cameras, but it’s a couple of hundred quid or so. We’re not charging like a company would, we’re doing it because we want to help people.”

Contact Mr Deodat on 07968 731258.

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