NCF welcomes new care sector report by Joint Committee on Human Rights

Published by Scott Challinor on August 1st 2022, 10:10am

The National Care Forum [NCF] – the leading association for not-for-profit care and support providers – has welcomed the recent publication of Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights’ report on protecting human rights in care settings.

The report makes a number of important recommendations, including that government introduces legislation to secure the right for care users to nominate one or more individuals to visit and provide care and support; that ministers move to extend the protections of the Human Rights Act to cover all who access care in regulated settings; the strengthening and simplifying of complaints mechanisms that relate to care settings; implementing human rights training for staff and much more.

In its evidence to the committee’s inquiry, the NCF stressed the need for a human rights approach in guidance issued by government and in practice in care settings. It drew upon its own advocacy work and that of its members, as well as experiences from the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic in challenging inappropriate DNACPR notices, campaigning for equitable access to PPE, testing and support for care workers, visitors and users of care where appropriate, and working with relatives and residents’ organisations to enable visiting as default as well as the promotion of wider human rights in practice.

The National Care Forum’s submission also focused on the need to strike an appropriate balance between competing rights, such as between an individual and the rights of the collective group living and working in a care service during the pandemic.

The NCF concluded that the balance of harms between the risk of contracting Covid-19 and the risk of harm from the ensuing loneliness and disconnection of lockdown and shielding was difficult to gauge, and that a balance was not properly struck during the pandemic. It added that the official guidance emerging from government and public health bodies was often unclear and made it difficult for providers, people and families.

Professor Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the NCF, commented: “The NCF has taken a consistent, balanced and active role in advocating for the response to Covid-19, be that policymaking, guidance or implementation, to take full account of people’s human rights. We worked with resident and relative organisations, care providers, public health teams and the Department of Health and Social Care from the beginning of the pandemic to safeguard human rights.

“As we move out of the pandemic, various reports are showing the impact of what a lack of a human rights approach has on individuals using social care. Human rights in care settings are a reflection of the way in which wider society values vulnerable people. It is important that the government has a much broader consideration of the human rights approach in social care and beyond.

“This is all the more important in light of the government’s intention to replace the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights – we need to ensure the rights of people accessing care or working in it, are protected.” 

Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash

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Scott Challinor
Business Editor
August 1st 2022, 10:10am

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