APPG for Ageing and Older People – Why we’re launching an inquiry into human rights

This week the All Party Parliamentary Group for Ageing and Older People is launching a new inquiry into human rights. Between now and the spring we’ll be holding meetings to discuss our key topics, share best practice examples and collect evidence. This will inform a final report of recommendations on how we can further the protection of the rights of older people. Continue reading “APPG for Ageing and Older People – Why we’re launching an inquiry into human rights”

A denial of dignity

Older woman with carer

The European Court has ruled on a challenge brought by Elaine McDonald, a user of social care services in Kensington and Chelsea, regarding reductions to her care package which amounted to a denial of dignity. This ruling is the final stage in a series of cases that have included the UK Appeal Court and Supreme Court. Age UK intervened in the Supreme Court case.

At the heart of the dispute is the issue of whether someone who is not incontinent should be expected to wear incontinence pads rather than being assisted to use the toilet at night. Ms McDonald has argued that being required to do this is a breach of her human rights.

UK courts, including the Supreme Court, accepted that Kensington and Chelsea’s decision to remove night time care was unlawful in English law as it was implemented without carrying out a proper reassessment of need. However UK courts have not accepted that this involved a breach of human rights, or that the council acted unlawfully in withdrawing care once (a year after the initial decision) it finally completed an assessment. Continue reading “A denial of dignity”

Equal access to services

Unlikely as it sounds, a recent 153 page legal decision about VAT returns could  prove to be a turning point in the campaign to get recognition of the needs of many older people when it comes to using online services.

In what’s being hailed as a significant  and closely watched decision,  a judge has upheld the right of three small business owners not to file their VAT returns on line. Two of those who brought the court case have disabilities. The other lives in a remote part of the country without reliable broadband access.200x160_hand-uses-mouse

In her ruling, the judge said it is a breach of the human rights act to require VAT forms to be filed online without exemption for older people, those with disabilities or who live in isolated parts of the country.

For Age UK, the decision is very welcome. Equal access to services not just for older people but everyone, has long been one of our core campaigning goals. Continue reading “Equal access to services”

Older women’s human rights in the UK – how are we doing?

This blog was contributed by Elizabeth Sclater, Secretary General of the Older Women’s Network, Europe

It’s just over a month since I returned from the UN in Geneva. I was accredited by the National Alliance of Women’s Organisations (NAWO), one of 40 people representing UK NGOs gathered for four days in July to lobby and support the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Committee members as they ‘examined’ the UK Government’s progress in implementing women’s human rights in the UK. As the only one with a focus on older women, it was important to ensure older age was mainstreamed in all our work, as well as highlighting the continuing and particular human rights challenges we as older women face in the UK. Continue reading “Older women’s human rights in the UK – how are we doing?”

Equal marriage – the Government’s commitment to caring for LGBT people in later life

This blog was contributed by Antony Smith, Development Officer (Equalities and Human Rights) at Age UK.

We achieved another significant milestone for equality over the summer, when the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act completed its passage through Parliament and received Royal Assent. It means that, for the first time, every lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) person in this country will enjoy full equality in law.

It can be hard to express how much joy this historic step will bring to the older LGB members of our community in particular, given the isolation, exclusion and discrimination many of them have experienced throughout their lives – from imprisonment and incarceration to losing job, home and family – simply for being lesbian, gay or bisexual. And, of course, we must never forget that it is thanks to the older members of our community, the original campaigners for440x210_two_gay_men social justice, that the UK now enjoys the best legal human rights for lesbian, gay and bisexual (and transgender) people in Europe, according to the International Lesbian and Gay Association. Continue reading “Equal marriage – the Government’s commitment to caring for LGBT people in later life”

Why we need a convention on the rights of older people

This blog was contributed by Chris Roles, Director of Age International.

The world is undergoing a demographic revolution. We are currently witnessing the dividends of improving health care and living standards in fast rising longevity across the globe.

Chris Roles, Director of Age International
Chris Roles, Director of Age International

The number of older people over 60 years old is expected to increase from about 600 million in 2000 to 2 billion by 2050. This change will be most dramatic in developing world countries where the number of older people is expected to triple during the next 40 years.

But as often happens with demographic change, social attitudes and legal protection lag behind, with policy makers scrambling to keep up with the transforming landscape. Continue reading “Why we need a convention on the rights of older people”

Care Bill: How the Human Rights Act can provide a safety net

Winterbourne View, Operation Jasmine, the EHRC’s Close to Home report and the harrowing story of Gloria Foster are all recent examples, and there are many more, of how the human rights of those receiving care have been breached. One would assume that protecting someone from abuse, neglect or undignified treatment would be the first priority of those providing care, however, in some cases it is clear that it is not so.

440x210_care_homeIn this context it is vital that the law acts to protect who are vulnerable to human rights abuses. The Human Rights Act 1998 states that ‘It is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right.’ Simply put, this means that public bodies have a duty to respect and protect people’s human rights to fairness, respect, equality, dignity and autonomy.  Where they fail in this regard they can be challenged in the courts.

Age UK has long been concerned that not all older people receiving care benefit from this vital source of protection. Certain groups of older people including those who receive home care services provided by private and third sector organisations under a contract to the local authority and those who arrange and pay for their own care are currently not directly protected under the Human Rights Act. Continue reading “Care Bill: How the Human Rights Act can provide a safety net”