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Human Rights in the care and support sector

NCF guest blog by Eilidh Turnbull, Research and Communications Officer, BIHR

“Human Rights are something that every human should have knowledge on, they apply to us all”

Residential Care Home Staff Member

Human rights are the rights we are all entitled to simply by virtue of being human. These rights ensure that we are all treated with dignity, respect and without discrimination. Human rights are more than just nice ideas; they are protected in law. They offer all of us protections in the things that we hold dearest such as, our relationships, our homes and our privacy.

Why do Human Rights Matter in the Care and Support Sector?

Human rights belong to everyone from residents in a care home to the nurses who care for them and the catering staff who make sure everyone is fed. However, under the Human Rights Act (HRA), public officials also have a legal duty to respect, protect and fulfil people’s human rights. Crucially, this legal duty does not only apply to traditional public services but also to private and charitable bodies who are delivering a function of “public nature”. This includes the provision of care and support. The CQC also have a legal duty to inspect based on the HRA.

From our experience working in the care and support sector we know that organisations work better when they use a human rights based approach, staff have an effective decision making framework and those that use the service are empowered to know and use their rights.

What sort of rights are in the Human Rights Act?

The Human Rights Act contains 16 rights:

Some of the key rights that often come up in the care and support sector are:

Human Rights in Practice

So, what does this all mean in practice, in a care and support setting? The right to life may mean advocating for a person when they do not receive lifesaving treatment due to discriminatory views around their mental health or mental capacity. The right not to be treated in an inhuman or degrading way includes ensuring that people have access to proper toilet facilities. The right to liberty includes not applying blanket policy that inhibit people’s movement, such as locked door policy for all residents. The right to respect for private and family life means that family members cannot be blocked from visiting their relatives for the sole reason that they had complained about their relative’s treatment.

A Human Rights Approach

A human rights approach can be applied at all levels of decision making, from service wide decisions to the day-to-day personal decisions. At BIHR we offer support to organisations in the care and support sector so that they can become the best advocates for human rights, making them real every day.

On 4 March we are offering an open training course for Health and Social Care Providers which offers a practical framework; building the knowledge and confidence of practitioners and planners to use human rights day to day to improve services. Follow this link to book your place, NCF members can use the code – NCF10OFF at checkout to get 10% off. We hope to see you there!

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