Article 8 - Right to private and family life

  1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

  2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Right to private and family life

This right is very broad in scope and covers many different situations which relate to the rights of older people.

Article 8 relates to the following main interests:

  • Privacy – this is defined broadly and relates to all aspects of privacy both in and outside of an individual’s private home

  • Family life – this covers all close and personal ties of a family kind - not only those of a blood or formalised nature

  • Physical, psychological and moral well-being – this covers the right to wellbeing through retaining autonomy, choice and dignity. It requires that there is access to information and participation in decisions that affect an individual’s life

  • Home – this is not about a right to a house but rather a right to respect for the home life of an individual

  • Correspondence – this covers all forms of communication with others such as phone calls, letters, emails etc

When could this right be relevant?

  • Involving people in decisions made about their treatment and care

  • Respecting people’s right to privacy in their own home, in a care home, in a hospital setting or elsewhere in the community

  • Remaining with a partner either at home or in a care setting

  • Maintaining socialisation and recreational activities and / or support to access such activities

  • Maintaining personal relationships with family members and others

  • Use of personal information

  • Poor quality of care not amounting to inhuman or degrading treatment

  • Consent to medical treatment and forms of restraint

  • Effects of care home closures.

Story example of Article 8 issue

Mairi is in her late eighties and has lived in a care home for 12 years. She loves it there, gets on well with the staff and has close links with friends in the local community where she lived and worked. Her son and daughter both live nearby. The home is no longer financially viable and residents are being moved elsewhere. Residents and their families are not involved in decision making. The risks involved to each individual have not been properly assessed.

Mairi is moved to a new establishment 15 miles away from her family meaning they can no longer visit her as there are few public transport links. She finds the whole process traumatic and very difficult and her mental and physical health deteriorates as she misses the company of her family and friends. Mairi is very angry that no one took into account that for her the care home was her home.