The guide follows an inquiry by the commission in 2011 which found that local authorities were not making the most of the scope they have for promoting and protecting older people’s human rights.
‘Guidance on human rights for commissioners of home care‘ explains how quality of home care can be driven up by building a human rights culture and looks at the commissioning cycle, including pre-qualification questionnaires and invitations to tender.
Five key messages lie at the heart of this guidance and explain why it makes sense for local authorities to commission home care compatibly with the Human Rights Act (HRA):
- It’s the law: all local authorities are obliged to comply with the HRA and non-compliance can result in serious risks to individuals along with legal, financial and reputational risks.
- It’s practical and ensures accountability: the HRA can provide a useful management and decision making framework which can assist resource allocation, prioritisation and balancing competing needs.
- It’s about quality and efficiency: pro-actively promoting human rights can help drive up quality, improve outcomes for service users, service providers and home care staff and reduce cost pressures. Inadequate care is never cheap in the long run.
- It supports other duties and initiatives: human rights underpin and add value to a range of legal duties and policy initiatives which are at the heart of local authority business, including non-discrimination, safeguarding and personalisation.
- It’s about familiar shared values: human rights are not new to the work of local authorities. The core values which underpin human rights – dignity, respect, choice, fairness and equality – are shared common public services values; using human rights can ensure these values are translated into practice within public authorities generally, and within commissioning specifically.
Equality and Human Rights Commission CEO, Mark Hammond said: “This guidance will help local authorities take a human rights based approach to commissioning care, which empowers service users and provides a set of common values for front line staff. If the guidance is fully respected it will mean people can live in their own homes confident that they are safe from inhuman or degrading treatment, their autonomy and independence is maintained as far as possible and their dignity and privacy is protected.”
The guide was written in collaboration with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the United Kingdom Homecare Association and the British Institute of Human Rights.
Last year the commission published a guide for home care service users, entitled ‘Your home care and human rights‘, to help older people and their family, friends or support workers to help service users understand what good quality home care looks like.