NI: Human Rights Act used in defence of older people’s rights

Law Centre (NI) has highlighted a lesser-known use of the Human Rights Act in complementing local legislation to ensure older people receive the care they are entitled to.

The non-profit agency’s community care team often use the Act in tandem with local legislation when negotiating with the health board and trusts on behalf of their clients.

In a recent case, the Act’s section 6 – a Local Authority must not act incompatibly with the European Convention on Human Rights (article 8 – right to respect for family and private life and article 5 – not to be deprived of liberty were both engaged in this instance) helped the Law Centre ensure that a client’s wish to live in her own home was respected.

The Alzheimer’s Society referred her to the Law Centre when she was discharged into residential care against her wishes and those of her family.

The Trust had decided that she lacked capacity and argued that the move into residential care was in her best interest. Her close family felt that she did have the capacity to decide but the Trust had not taken their views into consideration and had not carried out a full assessment of capacity.

The Law Centre contacted the Trust and its legal department. The adviser argued that the failure to carry out a proper assessment was in breach of the Human Rights Act as well as capacity caselaw and the Department’s own guidance.

The Trust was persuaded to carry out an assessment of needs. The client was discharged and a care package was put in place so she could live safely at home.

  • Visit the Law Centre (NI) website
  • Share icon
    Share this article: