Human rights in health and social care

Advice and Guidance

Which countries is it relevant to?

    • England

      England

Why is human rights important in health and social care?

In the UK all public authorities, including NHS organisations, have a duty to respect and promote peoples’ human rights.

Human rights can improve experiences for everybody – from service users, to workers, to service commissioners and providers.

Our work on human rights in health and social care aims to help the English health and social care sector comply with the Human Rights Act, through:

  • increased knowledge, understanding and ability to meet duties to respect, protect and promote human rights, including by addressing inequalities
  • increased knowledge, understanding and ability to translate human rights concepts and protections into higher quality service design and delivery
  • improved care experiences for patients, service users, their families and carers, through embedding a human rights based approach into service delivery

Resources and further information

We have produced training materials for council leaders who commission human rights in home care for older people.

We have also brought together educational resources for the health and social care sector, from external websites and providers, in the table below.

Organisation Who is this for? What service areas do they cover? What do they do?
Age UK Commissioners,
nurses and staff,
policy officers,
service managers,
trainers
Healthcare,
NHS,
residential care,
social care
Inspire, enable and support older people to help people make the most of later life.
See their guide: Older people and human rights: a reference guide for professionals working with older people (PDF)
Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and Local Government Association (ADASS and LGA) Health and wellbeing boards,
local partners
NHS The ADASS site has policy initiatives, press releases and consultation responses that represent the daily activity of the Association's members, featuring toolkits for health a wellbeing boards.
British Association of Social Workers (BASW) Nurses and care staff,
service managers
Social care,
residential care
The largest professional association for social work in the UK. See their code of ethics for social work (PDF) and their guide Human rights - but which human rights? (PDF)
British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) Nurses and care staff,
service managers,
trainers
Healthcare,
NHS,
residential care,
Social care
An independent charity working to bring human rights to life here at home. See their guides and factsheets.
British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD) Nurses and care staff,
service users
Healthcare,
NHS,
residential care,
social care
They help to develop those supporting people with complex needs to champion rights, ensure excellent support and continually improve practice. See the BILD factsheets.
British Journal of Psychiatry Service managers NHS Published monthly by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the British Journal of Psychiatry is a leading international peer-reviewed psychiatric journal, covering all branches of psychiatry with a particular emphasis on the clinical aspects of each topic.
Care Quality Commission (CQC) Nurses and care staff,
service users
Healthcare,
NHS,
residential care,
social care
The independent regulator of health and social care in England. See guidance on their human rights approach and their regulations for service providers and managers.
Department of Health and Social Care Nurses and care staff,
service managers
NHS Leading the nation’s health and social care to help people live more independent, healthier lives for longer. See their Winterbourne View review: good practice examples.
Dignity in care Nurses and care staff,
trainers
Healthcare,
NHS,
residential care,
social care
The dignity in care campaign aims to change the culture of care services and place a greater emphasis on improving the quality of care and the experience of citizens using services, including NHS hospitals, community services, care homes and home support services.
Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group Commissioners,
directors,
service managers
NHS NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group is made up of 23 Eastern Cheshire based GP practices, which aim to ensure a high quality of health care by commissioning appropriate health care services for more than 201,000 residents. See their guidance on building equality and diversity into commissioning and procurement (PDF) and their equality analysis template (PDF).
Human rights in healthcare programme Nurses and care staff,
service managers,
service users,
trainers
Healthcare,
NHS,
residential care,
social care
Aiming to promote a human rights based approach in health and social care, to improve standards of care.
Local Government Information Unit Nurses and care staff,
policy officers,
service managers
Healthcare,
NHS,
residential care,
social care
Think tank providing policy advice, learning programmes, events, consultancy and other resources to their members and other organisations. See A good death: the role of the local authority in end of life care (PDF) and Respect and protect: research into the experience of older people and staff in care homes and hospitals.
Mersey Care NHS Trust NHS trusts,
service managers
NHS Provides specialist mental health, learning disability and substance misuse services for adults in Merseyside and was involved in the human rights in healthcare programme. See their equality and human rights training.
Ministry of Justice All levels Healthcare,
NHS,
residential care,
social care
To reduce re-offending and protect the public, to provide access to justice, to increase confidence in the justice system, and uphold people’s civil liberty. See their guidance on Making sense of human rights (PDF).
NHS England Service managers NHS NHS England leads the National Health Service (NHS) in England. See their factsheet on the equality delivery system for the NHS (PDF).
NHS UK Choices Nurses and care staff,
service managers,
service users
Healthcare,
NHS,
residential care,
social care
The UK's biggest health website, offering a wide range of resources that can support health and care professional in their work with patients and clients. See their guidance on gender identity.
Royal College of Nursing Nurses and care staff NHS Representing nurses and nursing, promoting excellence in practice and shaping health policies.
Skills for Care All levels Social care,
residential care
Helps the sector recruit and retain the right people who have the right skills at the right time to deliver high quality services to people who need care and support in the communities. See their core principles for dignityand strategic equality and diversity principles (PDF).
Social Work Institute for Excellence (SCIE) Nurses and care staff,
trainers
Healthcare,
NHS,
residential care,
social care
The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) improves the lives of people who use care services by sharing knowledge about what works. See their guidance on dignity and mental health care, guidance on deprivation of liberty safeguards and guidance on safeguarding adults.
Stonewall All levels NHS Forming partnerships to make sure the rights and needs of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are addressed in the wider community. See their health briefings.

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Last updated: 08 Oct 2018