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Guidance on human rights for commissioners of home care

This guide aims to help local authority elected members and staff who are involved in the commissioning and procurement of home care better understand their obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 (the HRA). It is also relevant to others who have an interest in home care, including care providers, regulators, service users, their friends and families. A separate guide entitled ‘Your home care and human rights’ has been produced specifically for home care service users.

Both guides have been written in response to the findings of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (the Commission’s) Inquiry into older people and human rights in home care. The Inquiry looked at the situation in England and therefore this guidance relates to England only. Around half of the older people, friends and family members who gave evidence to the Inquiry, expressed real satisfaction with their home care. They most valued having a small number of familiar and reliable staff who took the time to talk to them and complied with their requests to do specific tasks. But the Inquiry also revealed many examples of older people’s human rights being breached, including physical or financial abuse, disregarding their privacy and dignity, failing to support them with eating or drinking, treating them as if they were invisible, and paying little attention to what they want.

The Inquiry took evidence from people in local authorities involved in commissioning home care and concluded that some local authorities adopted a quality driven approach, incorporating human rights principles throughout the commissioning process. However, for a variety of reasons, those commissioning home care may not be making the most of the scope they have for promoting and protecting human rights. Many people from local authorities told us they would welcome practical written guidance on their obligations under the HRA, including positive human rights obligations, which set out a human rights based approach to home care services.

This guide has been written in collaboration with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) and the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR).