This article, ‘First time, a surveillance room to prevent abuse of the elderly’ appeared on January 14, 2018 in the Hebrew Israel Hayom newspaper, was partially translated, from Hebrew, by the writer.
Israel is a small country and news, across country travels fast.
An entire country was shocked when the abuse of the elderly, at the ‘Neot Kipat HaZahav’ retirement home, in Haifa, was exposed.
The ‘Amal and Beyond’ homes for the elderly chain installed, for the first time in Israel, 250 cameras in its old-age homes – including in the living rooms. The goal, to protect the elderly around the clock.
For the first time, in Israel, hundreds of surveillance cameras have been installed, both in the hospitalization rooms and in the public areas of old age homes. This, in order to notice and expose, in real time, unusual occurrences and incidents of suspicious abuse and ill-treatment of hospitalized patients.
The cameras are connected to a surveillance-command center, where observers continuously monitor the cameras, at all hours of the day and night, in order to detect and identify cases of suspicious behavior of abuse and/or injury to patients, as well as to find other problems in the care and supervision of patients.
The surveillance-command center, which has been nicknamed “Ayeen Tzofiya,” “Watchful Eye,” has been operating, since November 2017, in the ‘Amal and Beyond’ nursing homes and homes for the elderly chain, which operates a chain of homes for the elderly and rehabilitation geriatric hospitals.
This is the first time in the history of the health and nursing system in Israel that cameras are installed inside each of the residential rooms in an old-age home, and there is a regular, continuous monitoring of the landscape.
In the surveillance-command center room, which has recently been fully operational, 250 cameras are being monitored; about 100 cameras in all the rooms in the ‘Amal Nursing Home, Tiberia,’ and approximately 150 cameras in the public areas, such as the dining room, entrances and corridors, in the ‘Amal Nursing Home, Tiberia,’ ‘Amal Hasharon,’ Ra’anana and ‘Amal Ma’ale Adumim.’
By the end of 2018, the network plans to install cameras in about 600 rooms in the three nursing homes, this already in addition to 400 cameras to be installed in the public areas of these hospitals. Approximately 1,300 elderly people are hospitalized in all of “Amal and Beyond” chain nursing homes.
As well as identifying suspicious occurrences, abuse and ill-treatment of patients, The cameras can discover other serious problems in protecting the patients and giving medical and nursing care, such as fear of patient’s falling from bed, taking a patient to have a shower without protective clothing, improper handling when changing diapers, improper feeding of a patient, etc.
According to Dalia Korkin, the general director of the Amal chain, the cameras were installed after there was a workers’ agreement in place and after the patients and their families, each signed a consent agreement. The cost to implement the surveillance project is estimated to be at least NIS 2 million (+/-$372,000 USD).
Korkin explained they “started the project out of a strong sense of responsibility for the patients and to be outstanding and leading in this field in Israel.”
The cameras were installed at the initiative of the ‘Amal and Beyond’ chain, even before the Health Ministry introduced a new law in the Knesset, which requires installation of cameras in all of Israel’s nursing homes for the elderly. This following the exposure of recent incidents of severe and cruel abuse of the hospitalized elderly in nursing homes, by hospital staff, as stated in the proposed bill. This refers to Israel’s Channel 2 TV news expose about the violence and humiliation of the elderly patients at the Neot Kipat Hazahav retirement home, in Haifa.
Additionally, in August 2016, on Channel 10 TV “All-Inclusive” program it was made public the mistreatment in the ‘Amal Tiberia’ nursing home, where 100 cameras were recently installed by the ‘Amal and Beyond’ chain.
The cameras in the Amal network were installed by Go Track H.L.S, a company providing consulting, guidance and training in the security and intelligence domains, to security facilities, hospitals and cities.
Oded Halevy is the founder of ‘Go Track’, who, 2 years ago retired with a Colonel Rank and was, among others, the commander of the combat collection training school in the IDF Ground Forces Corps, the commander of the combat collection battalion in Gaza and was a partner in the establishment of the border with Egypt.
Combat Intelligence Collection Corps
The Israeli Combat Intelligence Collection Corps, previously known as Field Intelligence Corps, is the newest of the IDF GOC Army Headquarters’ five corps, created in April 2000, tasked with collecting combat intelligence. It is responsible for intelligence units from the battalion level and up to the entire force. Due to the need for collecting combat intelligence and in maintaining observation networks, it is in the midst of expansion.
Halevy says that with “Amal and beyond,” his company formulated an operating concept that allows ongoing monitoring and control of everything that happens in public rooms and spaces. The company has put together a set of priorities for what is right and when, according to the hospital’s activities’ time, whereby, the cameras, connected to a computer system, can themselves identify irregularities, then direct the observer to notice occurrences, such as a patient falling off a bed, or someone entering a room at an unusual hour. Since ‘Go Track’ started operating, they did not identify on the camera system any incidence of suspicious harm to a patient.
The ‘Go Track’ team is staffed by former military surveillance observers, most of whom have worked in this field during their military service. Take for example 24-year-old Adi Amon, who served as an observer on the Israel-Egyptian border and as an operational officer in the IDF southern ‘war room,’ one of the IDF’s largest. For the past six months Adi has been a member of the ‘Go Track’ team who implemented the surveillance center in ‘Amal Hasharon’ nursing home. According to her, whether in the IDF ‘war room’, or in civilian life, the main goal is defense that will be operated, around the clock, by means of advanced technology and many pairs of eyes that are constantly watching.
Amon adds that while in the military surveillance war room, the main goal was to protect against enemies, like terrorists, whom you do not know when and how they might appear and/or arrive. In civil life, for instance in the nursing home, the goal is to protect the hospitalized elderly, when the names of all the nursing home’s workers are known. This is a way to be successful in treating and raising the awareness of the service and strengthening the relationship with the hospitalized patients that the hospital is in fact their home. ‘Go Track’ system influences the elderly, their way of life and their lives. With somewhat no surprise, within a few days Amon discovered how most of the observers developed empathy and compassion toward the patients they followed through the lens of the camera.
Another example is the 22-year-old Noa Dagan, from Kochav Yair, in center Israel, who served in the IDF as an observer and a combat collection officer in the Jerusalem surroundings ‘war room’ and today she is the director of ‘Go Track’ surveillance center. According to Dagan, the work in civilian life is very similar to that in the IDF that includes working with cameras, working according to the order of operations, determining according to every scenario, and attempt to contain the incident, whatever it is, in the fastest and best manner.
But in the home or hospital, Dagan and her colleagues actually see patients hospitalized in the hospital room, not just work in the field, and the feeling is of a real personal connection. Dagan added that this type of a job gives a sense of responsibility and mission, and she believes in the importance of this surveillance center and the great benefit it gives.
When recently in Los Angeles, participating in the Merage Institute course, in Orange Country, Southern California, the writer met with Oded Halevy, IDF Colonel (Res.), ‘Go Track’ CEO. I asked Oded how ‘Go Track’ differs from similar systems in the USA.
Mr. Halevy: “When speaking about camera systems, for instance installed in geriatric hospital, an old age and auspice homes, ‘Go track’ main innovation is the company’s monitoring ‘operational concept.’ It is a matter of the place and the ability to recognize and prevent occurrences, in real time, and not just using the time and date for debriefing purposes. And that is the way ‘Go Track’ builds and installs the camera system, the dispatching system and the operating dispatchers and how they train the team, according to the company unique operational concept. This civilian watch-out surveillance concept is based on the best available military surveillance operation. According to given data, such a concept does not exist today in the U.S.”
“We are prepared to apply ‘Go Track’ operational concept we have developed in the USA market,” Mr. Halevy told me.
Because of her necessities, Israel has become a world stand-up power nation, providing cyber security and surveillance technology. Israeli smarts are bringing and applying much of this technology, used by its armed forces, to the world’s daily life, adding one important aspect to the safety and security of civilians, wherever they are and whatever they are engaged in doing.
For that we say, ‘Go, Israel, Go’!