Think tank tells voluntary sector to use human rights act for better care

Older people and care homes residents could have a better
quality of life if they understood the Human Rights Act but so far
they missing out, according to new research, writes Amy

Think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said
the voluntary sector had a “crucial role” in changing
this by helping the most vulnerable people claim standards of care
that met their human rights while avoiding the courts.

Charities could use the act as a tool to get public bodies to
make the necessary changes to protect people when they experience
maltreatment and discrimination, said the IPPR in a report.

The act includes a right to a private and family life and
forbids degrading treatment.

These laws the IPPR said could be used to drive up standards in
care homes, improve housing conditions, and improve poor services
often experienced by disabled people.

“Their strong links into communities and their knowledge
of people’s needs means that voluntary organisations are
well-placed to promote a culture that supports human rights and,
where necessary, monitor potential abuses”, said Stuart
Etherington chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary

So far public bodies had taken a defensive stance looking more
at the threat of enforcement than the opportunity to promote
respect for human rights within their organisation, he said 

The IPPR said, the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights,
due to begin work in 2007, should have a dual role of supporting
the voluntary and community sector in campaigning for human rights
and acting as a watchdog for legal compliance.

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