The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into the home care system in England reveals disturbing evidence that the poor treatment of many older people is breaching their human rights and too many are struggling to voice their concerns about their care or be listened to about what kind of support they want.
The final report of the Commission’s inquiry, ‘Close to home: older people and human rights in home care‘, says hundreds of thousands of older people lack protection under the Human Rights Act and calls for this legal loophole to be closed. It questions commissioning practices that focus on a rigid list of tasks, rather than what older people actually want, and that give more weight to cost than to an acceptable quality of care.
In response to the findings of its inquiry, the Commission says that legislation and regulation needs to be updated to reflect huge shifts in how care is provided. Its recommendations from the inquiry fall under three broad categories:
- Proper protection: Closing the loophole in the Human Rights Act which would give protection to the growing number of older people receiving home care from private and voluntary sector agencies. The law was changed in this way in 2008 to protect residents of care homes who are funded by the state.
- Effective monitoring: The government, Care Quality Commission and local authorities need to work together better to build human rights into home care and make sure that abuses are detected faster and dealt with more effectively.
- Clear guidance: Clear and robust guidance on human rights is needed for councils so they can use the opportunities they have to promote and protect older people’s human rights in commissioning; older people also need guidance to help them make choices about care and to explain how their human rights should be protected.