Age Concern has welcomed the government’s announcement it would look to use current legislation to extend the Human Rights Act 1998 to independent care homes, but warned more needed to be done for self-funders.
Care services minister Ivan Lewis said yesterday that the Department of Health was considering how to use the Health and Social Care Bill to extend human rights protection to residents of independent care homes whose care was arranged by councils or the NHS. Currently only care homes directly run by local authorities or the NHS are covered by the act, and this has led to accusations of abuse and arbitrary evictions at some independent homes.
The British Institute for Human Rights, which has campaigned on the issue, said the announcement was long overdue. Director Katie Ghose added: “Finally we have a cast-iron guarantee that the Human Rights Act loophole for care homes will be closed right away. Older and disabled people who face malnutrition, abuse or forced evictions cannot afford to wait a moment longer for the protection they need. They will be watching the government closely to ensure words are translated into action.”
However, director general of Age Concern Gordon Lishman said that around 115,000 self-funding care home residents would be left out in the cold. “Today’s announcement does not offer protection to those who fund their care, so we will continue to press the government to offer the same rights to everyone, regardless of how they pay for their care,” he added.
The English Community Care Association, a representative body for independent care homes, reiterated its opposition to extending the Human Rights Act to its members. The organisation claims that such a move would increase litigation and that independent care home residents’ human rights are protected through the the Care Standards Act 2000.