Government changes stance on Care Bill

A government U-turn means those receiving state-funded care at home will receive extra protection under the Human Rights Act

People receiving state-funded care in their own homes will now be given additional protection, after an amendment to the Care Bill extended the Human Rights Act to users of state-funded home care.

Previously, users of state-provided care or residential services arranged by the state in the independent sector could challenge their treatment under the Human Rights Act 1998, but users of state-arranged home care could not.

The government U-turn follows months of campaigning by pressure groups for elderly people and the Liberal Democrats, and means that if people complain about poor treatment received in their home from the state or a private body under contract to the state, they will be protected by the Human Rights Act.

However, the additional protection will not apply to self-funded, privately provided care.

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The issue of protecting vulnerable and elderly people has been pushed back and forth between the Commons and the Lords, with the Ministry of Justice arguing that previous case law did not mean there was any ambiguity about the extent to which human rights legislation covered state-funded social care.

Speaking to the Guardian, a senior Lib Dem source said: “This has been a very important issue for the Liberal Democrats. Nick Clegg, the care minister, Norman Lamb, and the previous Liberal Democrat care minister, Paul Burstow, in particular, have worked hard, against initial Conservative resistance, to ensure that people who receive care in their own homes should be covered by the Human Rights Act.

“It shouldn’t be the case that just because you get care in your own home rather than moving into a care home that your human rights are ignored. It is a fundamental human rights issue and this will go one step further to make sure the rights of vulnerable older people are protected. Respect for a person’s human rights should be at the heart of good care.”