Promotion of human rights to improve performance

In its role to help improve performance the Care Commission can assist in promoting the adoption of a human rights based approach to care providers.

The drivers for embedding a culture of human rights in care provision present themselves on many levels: legal, reputational and operational, not to mention ethical.

Human rights should not be viewed in any way as a risk, threat or burden to care provision but instead as a means of resolving issues and improving service delivery.

Human rights can help care providers to provide quality care in the following ways:

Balancing risk and quality of life considerations

Sometimes service providers may try to avoid risk by limiting the rights and freedoms of service users in order to preserve the safety of individuals and to keep the families of individuals receiving care happy. Examples of this might be found in restrictions on bedsides, diets, movement or outdoor activities etc.

Human rights can assist in putting the individual service user’s rights at the centre of this and balancing these difficult decisions against the risk to the safety of the individual or the rights of others.

To understand better how this works in practice you can use the flowchart on page 41 to assist you in this type of decision making.

Person-centred care

Human rights are about looking at all the circumstances affecting an individual on a case by case basis and considering their care needs and rights entitlements. Blanket policies applying to all people using services should generally be avoided. It could be that a culmination of factors could lead to a human rights violation if this person-centred approach is not adopted.

Detailed care and support plans may be an essential element of fulfilling this requirement. Recording life histories and likes / dislikes will also assist in ensuring care and support is suitably tailored to individual needs and wishes and therefore less likely to lead to a situation where a human rights violation may be possible.

The genuine participation and involvement of people using services in all decisions affecting their rights, with the involvement of their families and carers where necessary, is key to ensuring this person-centred approach is adopted as part of a human rights based approach.

Better communication - common framework of rights and responsibilities for everybody

A human rights based approach which is understood by everybody will provide a common framework of understanding which can make disputes or disagreements easier to resolve.

For example, where a family member of an individual using care and support services raises concerns about an aspect of an individual’s care, a common understanding of human rights would mean that the views of the individual receiving care must be heard and their rights put at the centre of decision making. For many issues it may be about considering the proportionality of an intervention, ensuring that it is the minimum required to achieve the desired aim without unduly restricting someone’s rights. In some circumstances, however, it might be that if people are fully supported and informed, they have the right to make (even irrational) decisions about their own care which should be respected so long as they don’t have a disproportionate impact on others’ rights.

Foundation for other duties

Taking a human rights based approach can make delivering on other duties a less daunting process. It can lay strong foundations for equality, adult protection, mental health and other duties.

Not a risk or a burden but a tool for improving care

Human rights should not be seen as a risk or a burden but rather as a tool for decision making and a means of resolving issues and improving service delivery.

Human rights intersect and support the role of the regulators to improve service delivery. We hope that an understanding of a human rights based approach, as promoted in these materials and worked through in the FAIR flowchart, in the icon at the top of this page, will assist you in your role and help bring a coherent underpinning to the National Care Standards and legislation that applies to care services.