Human rights inquiry into home care

An inquiry has been launched into the human rights of older people receiving home-based care.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said the duties and responsibilities of those providing or regulating the care and support system were unclear, making older people who receive home care “acutely vulnerable” to human rights violations.

One million older people currently require care in their own homes, with the number set to increase dramatically by 2051 when 15.8 million people will be aged 65 years or over.

This will be a rise of 91% compared with 2008.

EHRC commissioner Sally Greengross said: “Against a backdrop of budget cuts and public sector reform, local authorities are playing an ever-decreasing role as direct providers or funders of care and support, with the majority of older people receiving care from private and voluntary sector organisations or individuals.

“The complex web of provision has left older people and their families unclear whether and how their human rights will be protected. Equally, we believe those providing, commissioning or regulating care are unclear of their legal responsibilities and how to discharge them.”

Bridget Warr, chief executive of the United Kingdom Homecare Association, said: “Homecare providers already operate in a highly regulated environment where human rights underpin the regulations and standards they work to in each of the four UK administrations.

“We are therefore particularly pleased that EHRC will include in its inquiry how the human rights of service users directly employing personal assistants will be safeguarded, as these services fall outside the legislation that applies to regulated providers.”