Older People’s Human Rights on the agenda at national and global level

At this year’s political party conferences the future of the Human Rights Act (HRA) was a hot topic, with the Conservative Party announcing a manifesto commitment to scrap the HRA and replace it with a British Bill of Rights, while the Liberal Democrats and Labour Party vowed to staunchly defend the status quo.

This debate, which is set to intensify between now and the next general election, tends to focus on a narrow range of human rights issues, namely how the HRA affects groups such as immigrants and prisoners.   What usually gets lost in this debate is the crucial role that human rights can play in the everyday lives of those whose rights are at risk in very different contexts, such as vulnerable older people receiving health or social care.

Last week the Equality and Human Rights Commission published the latest in a series of reports about the human rights of older people who receive care at home. It highlights that funding pressures which result in brief care visits have a devastating effect on both the older people relying on these services as well as the staff forced to choose between rushing visits, leaving early without finishing tasks or running late between clients. For local authorities to meet their human rights obligations and for older people to be assured of dignified and respectful care, the rates paid to care providers must cover the cost of care.

Another issue the report again highlights is the fact that people who receive home care from local authorities are protected by the HRA, but lose this protection if the care is contracted out to an agency. Age UK in partnership with Mind, Scope, the British Institute of Human Rights, Liberty and others, is calling for an amendment to the Care Bill, currently before Parliament, that would provide equal protection to all users of regulated social care services regardless of where that care is provided and who pays for it.

While at home in the UK the potential of human rights to improve the lives of older people is often underestimated, on the global stage the UN Human Rights Council has recognised the value they can bring. Last month it adopted a resolution that creates the new position of independent expert on the human rights of older people. A key responsibility of the independent expert will be to work with the UN Open-ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWGA) which is currently discussing proposals for a new international legal instrument on older people’s rights. Following our successful conference ‘Working towards a Human Rights Convention for Older People’ back in July, Age UK in partnership with Age International, is now calling on the UK Government take a positive and active role in this process.

This blog is a contribution to Blog Action Day a global conversation on human rights. 

Read more about equality and human rights on the Age UK website

4 thoughts on “Older People’s Human Rights on the agenda at national and global level”

  1. I have social care provided by my local council in house providers in wales and I have been informed that because there carers are not registered to work with children my daughter who is under 18 cannot be alone with me in our home when my carers are here.

    Human rights, family life???

  2. While there are a lot of things that come out of the European Human Rights decrees that will get you into Victor Meldrew “I don’t believe it” mode and you may be tempted to back this, the notion of a human rights bill equivalent drafted by the current government fills me with total horror. Sadly the government is a million miles away from the public. The notion that help in buying a first home up to 600,000 pounds ( – how much ? ) is reasonable while at the same time advocating that the ‘long term unemployed’ ought to be made to do a variety of rolls such as litter picking and the like which are currently undertaken by people who have been convicted of a crime and given community service kind of says totally different planet. and as for this weeks attempt of trying to making a victim out of ‘ I did not call them plebs – I just told them to F… off’ good buddy and demand that the officers and their chief constables and anyone else they could think off ought to be brought to book are really a million miles away from even understanding that people below a certain standing are even entitled to any human rights.

  3. It is a human right to be treated equally and not to be discriminated against. However, this human right has been denied due to the changes made to the State Pension Law. I was a given 18 months notice informing me that I have to work until I am 64 to receive my State Pension. Hundreds of thousands of others have to wait longer.

    Yet, Civil Servants, who are within 10 years of retirement were, quite rightly, given immunity from the changes to the Civil Service pension reforms. This was to ” Provide transitional protection for those closest to retirement”. This is blatant discrimination. It is discrimination to impose “rules” that disadvantage one group of people more than another. Therefore, the changes are illegal. Will Age UK legally challenge the Government?

    By reneging on their promise they have also denied a generation of their pension rights. This has had a devastating effect upon those men and women who have worked long and hard believing that they were to retire at 60 and 65 respectively.

    Due to the timescale that this law was introduced, hundreds of thousands of us have been denied the opportunity to make any contingency plans for retirement. After working hard for decades the short notice that the changes were imposed also immediately vanquished retirement plans.

    Because of this broken promise those of us affected are now being forced to work longer and wait longer to receive our state pension, which is an entitlement and something to which we have contributed to all of our working lives.

    The right to retire with the financial security at the age that has been promised throughout our working lives, has been denied. Dreams have been shattered. has been denied.

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