The National Care Forum has welcomed a report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights on protecting human rights in care settings.
The committee is appointed from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Its new report makes a number of recommendations, including:
- Calling on the government to introduce legislation to secure the right for care users to nominate one or more individuals to visit and provide care and support.
- A consultation on extending the protections of the Human Rights Act to all those accessing care in regulated settings – not only when the care is local authority funded or arranged.
- The strengthening and streamlining of complaints mechanisms.
- Strengthening the involvement of care users and their relatives to prevent the inappropriate use of DNACPR (do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation) notices.
In evidence given to the committee’s inquiry, the NCF highlighted the need for a human rights approach in in care settings, drawing attention to its advocacy work in challenging inappropriate DNACPR notices, campaigning for equitable access to PPE and COVID testing, and working with relatives and residents’ organisations to enable visiting.
The NCF’s submission also focused on the need to strike the right balance between competing rights, pointing out that: ‘The balance of harms between the risk of COVID-19 and the risk of harm from loneliness and disconnection was a difficult one and a balance was not properly struck during the pandemic.’
NCF CEO Professor Vic Rayner OBE said: “The NCF has taken a consistent, balanced, and active role in advocating for the response to COVID-19, be that policymaking, guidance, or implementation, to take full account of people’s human rights. We worked with resident and relative organisations, care providers, public health teams, and [the Department of Health and Social Care] from the beginning of the pandemic to safeguard human rights.
“As we move out of the pandemic, various reports are showing the impact of what a lack of a human rights approach has on individuals using social care. Human rights in care settings are a reflection of the way in which wider society values vulnerable people. It is important that the government has a much broader consideration of the human rights approach in social care and beyond. This is all the more important in light of the government’s intention to replace the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights – we need to ensure the rights of people accessing care or working in it are protected.”