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Commission Voices Concern For Residents Of Care Homes

03 May 2013

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is seriously concerned for the residents of care homes. The Commission has already found a series of human rights problems across the nursing home sector in its 2012 investigation.
In making this statement we do not question the legitimate role of the State in promoting care in the community. However we are now observing the immediate negative impact of the recent announcements to close designated statutory care homes across a number of HSC Trusts’ areas. The Commission is deeply worried by reports of the past few days indicating that some Trusts have failed to sufficiently consider the views of residents.
Changes in service provision must be conducted in a manner that is respectful of human dignity. In all of its actions the State should ensure that the people affected are consulted. Such consultation is not just a bureaucratic chore’ it is also an exercise in active listening in which the views expressed are taken fully into account throughout the process.
Human rights law demands that any person who must be moved out of a care home or be transferred to another facility is provided with the support they require in order to enjoy a dignified life during and following any move. It is evident that grave hurt and distress is being experienced by some people affected by current proposals. Recalling that these people are among the most vulnerable in our society the Commission reiterates the State’s duty to take all responsible steps to avoid what could amount to cruel’ inhuman or degrading treatment.
NIHRC Chief Commissioner’ Professor Michael O’Flaherty’ said:
‘The Commission is deeply concerned at the potentially inhuman and degrading treatment of people who live in our residential care homes. A heightened level of care and engagement by those responsible for their wellbeing is needed. First-hand accounts regarding how decisions have being communicated concerning the closure of care homes raises serious human rights concerns.’
For further information please contact Claire Martin on: (028) 9024 3987/ 07717731873
Notes to editors
1. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body first proposed in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (1998) and established in 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act (1998). It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster.
2. The Commission published an investigation report in 2012 entitled ‘In Defence of Dignity’. The report examined the nursing care home sector in Northern and identified a number of human rights concerns. Access the full report below:
pdfIn Defence of Dignity 2012

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