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Read the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's Response to the Department of Health Consultation on the Reform of Adult Social Care.

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Response to the Department of Health Consultation on the Reform of Adult Social Care

Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Date produced June 2022

Below is a summary of the recommendations:

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2.10 the Department of Health adopts a human rights based approach to the development of a new social care strategy. In addition, to the ECHR, UN ICCPR and UN ICESCR, this strategy should adopt and, for the purposes of benchmarking, utilise the FREDA Principles.

2.13 the Department of Health ensures effective participation in any further steps taken in developing implementing, monitoring and evaluating this strategy.

3.6 the Department of Health assesses the level of resources necessary and, with the NI Executive, ensures that the maximum available resources are utilised and ring fenced for the development of this strategy.

3.7 the Department of Health maintains a participatory process in the development of the budget relating to the proposed strategy and engages in meaningful consultation with those affected by the strategy and their representative organisations.

4.4 the Department of Health develops a clear and realistic timeframe for delivery, using appropriate benchmarks and indicators for each agreed action. This should include provisions for regular reporting to the NI Committee for Health, and an annual report on progress.

4.5 the Department of Health ensures that outsourcing of responsibilities to private entities or civil society is subject to a human rights-based procurement process and will be monitored, including for human rights compliance.

4.6 the Department of Health ensures that external agencies, particularly civil society organisations, are appropriately resourced to ensure their long-term sustainability in the provision of care.

4.8 the Department of Health commits to consistently collect, monitor and publish robust data that is comprehensively disaggregated and offers an opportunity for comparison across time and jurisdictions.

5.4 the Department of Health ensures that decisions on cost bandings as part of the tariff setting exercise are informed by human rights standards and principles that centre on the dignity of those availing of social care services.

5.9 the Department of Health ensures that it is made explicit that the principles guiding the implementation of future legislation operate within a human rights based framework, which incorporates the full range of international human rights standards ratified by the UK.

5.10 the Department of Health ensures that any future legislation is accompanied by a Human Rights Impact Assessment that takes account of all the UK’s international human rights obligations.

6.7 in assessing appropriate wage levels for social care workers, the Department of Health considers whether the current rates of pay reflects an inherently discriminatory evaluation of the value of social care work.

6.8 that, at a minimum, wages should be set at a living wage level.

6.11 that safe staffing levels are determined in consultation with service providers and allocated the necessary funding.

6.13 the Department of Health includes within the strategy a commitment to comprehensive human rights training for all social care staff. This training should be mandatory and be subject to periodic review and evaluation.

7.8 the Department of Health, as part of the development of a regional strategic ‘In Control’ action plan, considers the inclusion of those who face barriers to engagement in consultation processes.

7.10 the proposed legislative duty on Health and Social Care Trusts to provide information and advice on care and support options includes a requirement that this is tailored to a range of communication requirements.

7.14 the Department of Health includes specific action on the deinstitutionalisation of care through the lens of the UN CRPD. This should be completed as a matter of urgency.

7.16 the Department of Health adopts the recommendations from the COVID-19 Inquiry in relation to the management of the pandemic in care homes, ensuring that learning is disseminated across the sector and that a human rights based plan is in place for any future outbreak. This learning should be incorporated into the future strategy to ensure that the isolation experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic is prevented in any future pandemic or societal emergency.

8.3 that specific provision for these services is guaranteed within the future strategy in close consultation with the relevant services providers. This will require the appropriate allocation of resources and clear monitoring mechanisms.

8.5 the Department of Health ensures that the future strategy includes provision for those who are transitioning into adult social care services.

8.6 as part of introducing the offer of preventative/support visits for anyone aged over 75 by an appropriately trained professional, the Department of Health incorporates learning from the application of the scheme in Denmark and ensures that there are appropriate guidelines and quality assurance indicators.

9.3 the Department of Health ensures that the proposed legislative duties include legislative provision for the right of carers to access respite care services.

9.7 as part of the review of the Caring for Carers strategy and development of a new strategic approach, the Department of Health adopts a human rights based approach with specific consideration to rights of child carers, including the right to participation, as protected by the UN CRC.

10.3 the Department of Health ensures that the philosophy of care clearly states that it is grounded in human rights and that staff must act in full compliance with ECHR rights, as per the Human Rights Act.

10.7 the measures proposed to reduce the possibility of any care home resident having to move home are monitored as part of the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority’s inspections of care homes.

10.10 the Department of Health ensures that the strategy includes a clear, expeditious complaints mechanism that is accessible and includes a transparent and meaningful process by which to appeal decisions. The Strategy should include a commitment that comprehensive, fully accessible information on these processes is available to those availing of social care services and their carers.

10.13 the Department of Health ensure that fully accessible, independent advocacy services are available to everyone supported within the social care system.

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