Common sense on Common Values

Posted by Rachel Robinson on 29 October 2013

It seems like common sense – of course vulnerable elderly people in care homes should have their human rights fully enshrined in law. If there was ever any doubt about this, serious scandals in care homes in the last few years have forcefully underlined it.

Yet as things stand it’s unclear whether those who pay for their care privately are covered by our Human Rights Act. The original text of the Care Bill - currently making its way through Parliament - didn’t resolve this ambiguity. Worse still, it actually threatened to exacerbate the problem by increasing the amount of people who arrange their own care and so potentially fall outside the Act’s scope.

The web of regulation in this area is complicated, but what’s clear is that our vulnerable old people cannot and must not be left without adequate protection. Whether their care is self-funded or state-funded, the fundamental need to treat them with dignity and respect remains.

Encouragingly the House of Lords have now recognised this. In a hugely welcome move, peers have voted in favour of an amendment to extend the Human Rights Act to cover private providers of care for elderly people.

When the Bill returns to the Commons it’s vital that MPs follow the House of Lords’ lead. Our vulnerable old people face a significant risk of abuse and we’ve learnt through bitter experience how much these safeguards are needed. Young or old, rich or poor, basic rights are not something anyone should have to do without.

  • For more information about Common Values, Liberty’s campaign to increase respect and understanding for the Human Rights Act and human rights values, visit
Rachel Robinson

Rachel Robinson

Policy and Advocacy Manager