I don't have children yet, but when I do, I fully intend to send them to school wearing covert cameras. You know, in case the teacher hits them.
I know some of you will think this is a bit over the top. And I'm glad, because those people are correct. In spite of those rare instances of abuse in schools, society rightfully views teachers as hard working, well intentioned professionals, and as a rule people aren't suspicious of teachers without grounds. Good. Now, can we try and apply some of that thinking to carers?
Because the pamphlet that the Care Quality Commission has published on the use of hidden cameras in care homes hasn't been met with a collective raising of eyebrows. Somewhere, as a society, we've mentally linked the care industry with abuse.
I personally wouldn't mind if I discovered that I'd been covertly filmed in the care home where I work. I fully accept others right to care - people are allowed to be concerned about privacy, even though I'm not. But I would have actually been quite pleased. Like hundreds of thousands of care staff across the country, I do my job well. Better than well. As with so many of my colleagues, I am always going beyond the call of duty, often in ways that no one would ever know. Covert filming might get me the credit for all those little acts of kindness that no one saw. What hurts more than the filming itself is the cynical assumption that I needed filming.
I am aware that abuse happens in care homes. Unless you also work in care, I'm more aware than you are. Unless you have also worked in care, you won't have gone through the regular training, used the safeguards or lived in a culture of permanent vigilance. The people dedicating their lives to care are, unsurprisingly, also pretty invested in making sure these horrendous abuses don't happen. On the rare occasions where they do, we're even more appalled than you are, and even more keen to see the abuser brought to justice - and we're no more culpable for it than you are, just because we share a job title with the abuser.
I don't hear anyone suggesting that we covertly film all employees of the BBC, even though we can demonstrate that abuse has happened in that institution. I don't hear anyone suggesting we covertly monitor the banks, for whom tax avoidance and dodgy dealing is not so much a rare abuse as a business model. I don't hear anyone suggesting we bug the offices of politicians, even though the mistakes of politicians have directly caused so many of the issues the care industry face. The people who work in those industries expect to be viewed as more than the failings of their colleagues - or even as more than their own personal failings - but won't give the same credit to the people working in the care industry.
If there is a problem in care as a sector, it can't be laid at our door. We haven't caused the issues affecting care - as a matter of fact, we've compensated for them. We've continued to work long hours, on low pay, in stressful situations, under constant scrutiny, to ever more ridiculous targets. And we stayed calm, compassionate and careful throughout. Do we get any thanks for this? No. We know that when we do it. Being the sort of person that does a thing just because it's right should really get you more respect, not less, but we know that we'll never be viewed as highly as the politicians and bankers that actually screwed it all up. It's almost as though they're looking for someone else to blame.
Care staff in the UK are providing one of the most vital services to society, and they're right at the forefront of the biggest crisis our nation faces. We can't keep making their jobs harder, robbing them of their professional dignity and trying to lay the problems in the industry at their door. If we don't give carers the professional respect they deserve we'll soon find we've lost our biggest asset in a botched attempt to target problems - problems that, primarily, are made higher up.