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”

Guest blog: Tackling elder abuse

This guest blog was contributed by our national partner, Age Cymru.

All older people should have the right to a life free from abuse, where dignity, respect and safety are part of the natural fabric of society.Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

2007 UK Study of Abuse and Neglect of Older People found that around 340,000 (about 1 in 25) older people  living in the community are affected by abuse every year.

The same study found that Wales has the highest rate of elder abuse in the whole of the UK. Based on population figures, Age Cymru estimates that 39,000 older people in Wales are victims of abuse in their own homes.

It’s sobering to then consider the total number of suspected adult abuse cases reported in Wales in 2009-2010 was just 4,913. Clearly, there is much more that we should do to protect older people from abuse.

There’s a similar story across the UK, and in many ways elder abuse remains a “hidden problem” which we know often goes unreported and unchallenged.

Recently, Mary Cox wrote a blog explaining Age UK’s work to prevent the mistreatment of people in later life in England.   

Over the border, Age Cymru’s Elder Abuse project has been running in Wales for almost 6 years, working to identify ways to reduce instances of abuse and deal with it more effectively when it does occur. 

For many years the project has been exploring the case for a specific law in Wales to protect adults from abuse. In Wales, there is an opportunity to make this happen now due to the new law-making powers of the National Assembly for Wales and the forthcoming Social Services (Wales) Bill.

Age Cymru has developed the Rule Out Abuse campaign, calling for increased commitment to protecting older people from abuse.

Clearer, more focussed laws, with clear duties on public bodies, including Health, Social Services and Police, to investigate and cooperate when abuse or potential abuse is reported would ensure that elder abuse is tackled with the priority it deserves.

 A new law is just one of a range of tools we need to protect older people from abuse, but it’s a critical one.

Find out more about Age Cymru’s campaign and sign the Rule Out Abuse charter

Read a blog by Age UK’s Safeguarding Advisor, Mary Cox, about elder abuse and safeguarding