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Older people in care homes denied human rights  

A gap in the law is denying many older people in independent sector homes any guarantee that their fundamental human rights will be protected.

 In England alone, there are about 355,000 residents without recourse to any legal remedies for human rights violations.

The anomaly has arisen because many previously ‘public functions’ are now carried out by the private and voluntary sectors. These sectors do not have a statutory obligation to avoid violating the rights of those in their care.

There are two groups of residents in independent sector care homes who are not currently protected by the Human Rights Act: those whose accommodation is arranged by the local authority, and those who make their own arrangements, either voluntarily or because they are required to do so.

The independent sector provides over 90 per cent of all homes and 85 per cent of places in residential care homes.*

 

Help the Aged is calling for:

         all residents, whether ‘self funding’ or otherwise, to be able to assert their rights as necessary against their care home provider under the Convention on Human Rights

         the Human Rights Act to be amended to ensure that private and voluntary care homes come within the definition of ‘public authority’ and are therefore subject to the section 6 duty to act compatibly with the Convention on Human Rights

         the establishment of a Human Rights Commission to reduce the risk of human rights abuses occurring, and to enforce remedies when they do happen  

Tessa Harding, Help the Aged’s Head of Policy, says, “With the great majority of care homes now being in the independent sector, older people are not receiving the protection they should. Alternative legal remedies do not offer reliable or speedy protection to residents and cannot adequately fill the current gaps in human rights protection. We urgently need to see this loophole closed to protect older people from human rights abuse and violation.”

* Community Care Statistics 2001 www.doh.gov.uk

For further information see Help the Aged Website: www.helptheaged.org.uk   

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