Law fails to protect care home clients

Many older people who live in private care homes are not being
protected by the Human Rights Act 1998 because of a gap in the

Duties which were previously “public functions” are now carried
out by the private and voluntary sectors, which do not have a
statutory obligation to avoid violating the rights of people in
their care.

Help the Aged told MPs and Lords on the Joint Committee on Human
Rights that there were two groups of residents who were not
protected by the act: those whose accommodation is arranged by
councils and those who make their own arrangements.

The charity wants all residents, self-funding or otherwise, to
be able to assert their rights against their care home provider
under the European Convention on Human Rights. It also wants the
act to be amended so that private and voluntary care homes come
within the definition of public authority and must comply with the

Estimates indicate that the independent sector provides more
than 90 per cent of all homes and 85 per cent residential care home

Tessa Harding, head of policy at Help the Aged, said that older
people were not receiving adequate protection. “Alternative legal
remedies do not offer reliable or speedy protection to residents
and cannot adequately fill the current gaps in human rights
protection,” she said.

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