Report calls for stronger protections for people in care settings

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has published its report into Human Rights in care settings in England following an inquiry it launched in September 2021. It found that care users need stronger human rights protections, with gaps in how vulnerable people are protected in care settings. It has called for the Government to work with the CQC to ensure there is “stringent oversight” of how care providers implement safeguards to protect the human rights of care users.

Concerns that safeguards are not applied correctly

The Joint Committee found that Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation notices and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards are often not applied correctly, with treatment wrongfully withheld or care user’s liberty infringed.

On DNACPR notices, they restate that theses notices relate solely to cardiopulmonary resuscitation and should not be applied in a blanket fashion to groups of individuals, nor be confused with decisions about other treatment. Again they remind readers that care users and their families should be involved in the DNACPR notices, with comprehensive record keeping, monitoring and review at an organisational level to ensure best practice is being followed.

Key recommendations

  • Government to work with providers and the CQC to raise awareness and prevent inappropriate use of DNACPRs.
    • The Joint Committee are also concerned about the use of restrictive practices, such as the use of chemical or physical restraints, reminding everyone that these should only be used where strictly necessary. They are concerned about their use for people with dementia or learning disabilities.
  • Government to work with the CQC and Ombudsman to review existing guidelines to ensure they comply with human rights law and ensure providers only use restrictive practices as a last resort.
    • On the issue of unlawful detention and deprivation of liberty, the Joint Committee are concerned that people are being deprived of their liberty and being placed under continuous supervision, without adequate safeguards in place. Clearly the new Liberty Protection Safeguard scheme is not yet in force.
  • Government to work with the regulator and providers to ensure they fully understand the operation of DoLS and comply with their statutory requirements.
  • Making non-means tested legal aid available for those who have been detained unlawfully or their representatives to challenge their treatment.

Levelling the playing field on human rights

The report calls on the Government to consult on whether the protections of the Human Rights Act should be extended to those receiving care and support from all regulated providers –not limited to those were care is publicly funded or arranged.

And finally, recommendations are made on the issue of securing visitation rights for care users, with a call for the Government to establish a legal right for care users to nominate individuals for visiting rights.

Lots to digest!

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