3 years ago



Empowerment Examples

Empowerment Examples from practice individual stories Manchester LINk (which was hosted by BHA) produced a guide on ‘Your Homecare, Your Rights’, which advises on the human rights of those receiving personal care. 700 copies of the guide were circulated to care providers and advice agencies in Manchester. The content of the booklet was subsequently used by Lancashire County Council who produced a similar publication. (Source: BHA, partner organisation on the BIHR VCS Project) Look Ahead ran a human rights awareness project with around 20 young people with varying backgrounds; one group from Look Ahead services and another group from the Youth Council. This included four workshops on human rights with interactive sessions, role play and a debate day with local police officers on rights. Importantly, much of the agenda was driven by the young people themselves. The workshops led to good debates and discussions on human rights and increased confidence by the young people involved. Whereas the young people from Look Ahead services began the sessions with less confidence in themselves and their education than the Youth Council group, there was a noted shift during the workshops. The project lead reported: “The change in postures and attitudes of the young people was clear and visible, and has emphasised the importance of this project…All of our customers will have had experience, but what a lot of them have not been fortunate enough to have is specific education about ‘rights’ and ‘entitlements’…I think that it was vital for them to be in this situation, discussing something as empowering as rights.” [Source: Chiki Onwukwe, Look Ahead, partner organisation on the VCS Project] Advocacy Matters trained local carers in Sutton Coldfield on the HRA. They also offer regular training sessions on the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) and wider human rights issues to hospitals, care homes and nursing care homes within their local authority area. This proved to be a very effective course and there is some anecdotal evidence that this has led to an increase in requests by those bodies for DoLS authorisations, which Advocacy Matters saw as evidence of care managers recognising human rights issues. [Source: Martin Watson, Advocacy Matters, partner organisation on the VCS Project] Remember One of the benefits of a human rights approach, as we listed on page 8, is a reduced risk of complaints and litigation in the long term. However, it is important to remember that as you empower individuals to know and use their human rights, and empower staff to apply them, it is likely that this will lead to an increase in complaints/referrals in the short-term. As one of the delegates at our Human Rights and Healthcare roundtable in Liverpool (as part of the BIHR VCS Project) pointed out, this should not be seen as negative but rather an inevitable result of empowering people. It means that more people are claiming their rights and more staff members are considering them. It is important that this is understood by other staff members and regulators and not to get ‘put off’ by an increase in the short-term. The more you ‘get things right’ in the beginning, the less likely you are to have more complicated problems/complaints further down the road. Through our work, we have seen that a human rights approach leads to reduced risk of complaints and litigation in the long-term. 18

Law A defining feature of a human rights approach is the explicit reference to human rights law. A human rights approach is not only about the spirit or values of rights, but about using the substance and power of legal standards to help drive change. The Human Rights Act (HRA) is one of the main laws protecting human rights in the UK. It contains a list of 16 rights (called Articles) which belong to all people in the UK. As you will see from the list of rights on the back page, there is no free-standing right to healthcare. But this does not mean that the HRA is not relevant to healthcare – far from it! Many of the rights in the HRA are particularly relevant in healthcare settings – as set out below. The legal duties in the HRA apply to healthcare services, and in this way the HRA provides the legal anchor for a human rights approach to healthcare. There are other international human rights laws which may also be relevant to healthcare services. However this guide focuses of the HRA, because this is our domestically enforceable law, which means it contains legal protections and duties which individuals can rely on inside and outside of courts, and if necessary enforce, in their day-to-day lives. If you are interested in learning more about international human rights check our resource ‘A Voluntary and Community Sector Guide to Using International Human Rights.’ How the Human Rights Act works The HRA outlines several ways that the rights should be protected. These will all be relevant when we are accessing or delivering healthcare services, including: 1 Public authorities must act “compatibly” with the rights in the HRA in all that they do: Put simply this means public authorities, including healthcare services, have duties to respect, protect and fulfil people’s human rights in their day-to-day business (sometimes called the ‘Section 6 Duty’, because the duty is contained in section 6 of the HRA). This is especially important to putting human rights into practice as this duty is the legal anchor which can drive change. In this way the HRA is a framework law designed to help authorities and individuals negotiate better outcomes, and hopefully avoid court action. 2 Everyone in the UK can access their human rights through UK courts and tribunals: This means if a person believes a healthcare provider has not been behaving compatibly with the HRA, then they can take legal action. For example, Dianne Blood was not able to register her deceased husband as the father of her two children conceived by IVF on the children’s birth certificates because of provisions in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. When she challenged this, the court ruled that the law did not respect Dianne’s children’s right to respect for private and family life (Article 8). Parliament then introduced changes to the law which respected human rights. 3 All UK laws should be compatible with the rights in the Human Rights Act: The HRA is like the umbrella under which all other laws sit. The courts will interpret all laws to be compatible with the rights in the HRA where possible. Where this isn’t possible, the courts don’t have the power to ‘strike down’ laws, but instead can issue a ‘declaration of incompatibility’, which is a strong message to Parliament that a law needs updating or amending. For example, a woman who was detained under the Mental Health Act challenged the part of that Act which automatically named her adoptive father as her “nearest relative”, as she had been sexually abused by him as a child. The court made a ‘declaration of incompatibility’ that the law breached her right to respect for private life (Article 8 HRA). The law was later amended by Parliament. This legal duty underpins all of the practical examples featured in this guide. 19 L

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