The Inquiry into protecting human rights in care settings

On 23 March 2022 at 15:00, the Joint Committee on Human Rights (“JCHR”) will continue its inquiry into protecting human rights in care settings and will listen to oral evidence from representatives of the NHS, the CQC and the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (“LGSCO”).

 

The Panels

The inquiry will consist of two panels to be questioned. The first panel will consist of NHS directors for learning disability and autism, and patient safety. The JCHR will take evidence from this panel in relation to how human rights are protected, the use of chemical and physical restraints and the effectiveness of the deprivation of liberty safeguards (“DoLS”). It will also listen to how ‘Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation’ (DNACPR) notices are used in care settings.

The second panel will be composed of representatives from the LGSCO and the CQC, who will advise on the complaints mechanisms available to service users in care settings and their role in relation to restrictions on visiting during the pandemic.

 

The Inquiry

The inquiry will consider human rights concerns in care settings in England and  will highlight areas where the human rights of patients, older people and others living with long-term disabilities (including learning disabilities and autism), are currently undermined or at risk. The groups covered will include people living in residential care homes, hospitals and supported housing. It will also include those receiving social care services in their own homes.

In particular the following will be considered:

  • The most pertinent human rights issues in care settings currently arising from COVID-19;
  • Whether or not providers are effective in protecting human rights of service users in care settings;
  • How effective regulators are at ensuring that residents’ human rights are protected in care settings and preventing human rights breaches;
  • How effective regulators are in supporting service users who make complaints about their care provider; and
  • What lessons can be learned from the pandemic to prevent future human rights breaches in this context.

 

The Impact

This inquiry will be significant for providers because it will highlight the areas which they need to pay particular attention to in order to ensure they are protecting service users’ human rights adequately.

This will be especially relevant to the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 as this legislation sets out the fundamental standards that providers must have regard to when caring for services users.  In particular, it will be especially relevant to the following Regulations:

  • Regulation 9 – Person-centred care
  • Regulation 10 – Dignity and respect
  • Regulation 11 – Need for consent
  • Regulation 12 – Safe care and treatment
  • Regulation 13 – Safeguarding service users from abuse
  • Regulation 14 – Meeting nutritional and hydration needs

Given that the CQC has already been extremely harsh in taking enforcement action over the course of the pandemic, providers will want to do all that they can to ensure that any changes to the provision of care are synonymous with regulatory requirements.

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