Headlines: April 26th, 2007



Social services directors have called for more attention to be paid to the human rights of older people in health and social care settings. In a submission to the House of Commons’ Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has warned that older people may lack confidence in raising concerns about possible abuse, neglect or discrimination.

The Directors said elderly people might fear retribution and their families might also be worried that if they voiced concerns, their relative’s care could suffer. In addition, older people themselves might be unaware that their rights were being infringed.

The ADASS submission emphasised that local authorities had put checks and balances in place to protect people’s rights, including systems to safeguard elderly people and deal with complaints and measures to monitor closely contractual arrangements. But the Association has also pointed out that the abuse of older people does not have the statutory framework that child abuse has. That meant that local authorities were more limited in the ways they could legally intervene in some potentially abusive situations.

The submission also raised the issue of inadequate training of care staff, which could add to the failure of some providers to guarantee the human rights of older people to whom they owed a duty of care. It called for training of key staff to be better targeted to raise awareness of signs and symptoms of ill health or psychological deterioration in residential care.

The Directors called for information on the Human Rights Act to be made available to older people and their families in accessible formats and that they should be given a statement of standards and principles on admission either to hospital or residential care. They also want specific information on the range of possible outcomes to an investigation into a complaint to be made available and suggest that NHS Trusts and Local Authorities consider appointing human rights `champions’ to be responsible for the information formats.