Guidance on human rights for people who receive home care

Information for people who receive home care and their relatives or friends

The Commission has produced a guide for older people and their family, friends or support workers to help service users understand what good quality home care looks like.

We are grateful to Independent Age who have helped us write this guide, and to the United Kingdom Homecare Association who supported this project throughout.

Download Your home care and human rights

We talked to Mr and Mrs Forshaw pictured below, who currently use home care provider "Home Instead" in Southport to ask them what they thought of the new guidance.

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 Mr and Mrs Forshaw told us:

''The guide certainly would’ve given me some better confidence to move into it (when arranging care) in the first place, where I could get some help and my rights. I like that you put it in straight forward language.

It’s particularly good that there are a list of rights, you’re hearing a lot about right to family life, for the wrong reasons, but it’s in for the right reasons ... ''

Gary Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of the charity Action on Elder Abuse said:

''Action on Elder Abuse welcomes the publication of this useful guide to Human Rights and Home Care.

Our experience tells us that older people often do not know their rights, and can find it difficult to raise concerns about the quality and reliability of their care. This easy to understand guide will therefore be a useful aid to ensuring that they can both understand and access their rights."

The United Kingdom Home Care Association Ltd said:

It is vital that the human rights of everyone who uses homecare services are fully protected.  The vast majority of care is of a high standard, but it is essential that members of the public know the degree of protection they are entitled to and are able to raise concerns over its quality or safety, or when it is insufficient to meet their needs. United Kingdom Homecare Association is pleased to have worked with EHRC on this important issue and welcomes the publication of this helpful guide.
 

Unison said:

“We fully support the EHRC's new guide. Respect for service users' human rights is integral to a dignified system of homecare and chimes with our own Ethical Care Campaign. It is vital that homecare workers are provided with the necessary levels of training and support in their role and crucially enough time so they can provide the best possible care.”

Around half of older people receiving care said they were happy with their home care which is great news. You gave us examples of the kind of care you like and the type of services you want. For example you told us you valued having a small number of familiar and reliable staff who took the time to talk to you and followed your requests to carry out specific tasks.

Sadly, this is not the case for all older people. You also told us about bad experiences of home care, many of which we think are examples of serious human rights breaches:

  • people being left in bed for 17 hours or more between care visits;
  • failure to wash people regularly and provide people with the support they need to eat and drink;
  • people being left in soiled beds and clothes for long periods;
  • a high staff turnover meaning some people have a huge number of different care workers performing intimate tasks such as washing and dressing.In one case a woman recorded having 32 different care workers over a two week period.

Our view is that nobody should have their basic rights overlooked, particularly when they are getting a service in their own home. This is why we think that the basic rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights and made law in the UK by the Human Rights Act should be an integral part of the standards for home care. It is a guarantee that your home care will be of a standard that does not put you at risk.

This is made clearest by what we think these rights mean in practice.

The Human Rights Act gives you the power to challenge any ill-treatment that seriously breaches these rights in a court of law in the UK.

If you feel you are being discriminated against or think your human rights are being breached or you know someone whose human rights are being breached in relation to home-based care, the first step is to speak to your home care service provider about this. If this is not an option for whatever reason or you are not happy with the response you receive, you can contact the Care Quality Commission or the Equality Advisory Support Service on 0808 800 0082 or www.equalityadvisoryservice.com.

You have a say in the type of home care services that you receive as part of the assessment and it is important that you continue to have a voice. We recommend that much more consumer information should be compiled and made accessible about the quality of care providers and their specialist areas to enable home care users to make an informed choice.

Read our full recommendations.

Last Updated: 12 Aug 2014