New appeal to extend Human Rights Act to all those in care

A campaigning pensioner has called for the Human Rights Act to be extended to cover people in private care.

Pam Coughlan, aged 72, came to prominence 16 years ago when she won a landmark legal battle to save her care home from closure.

Now she has urged ministers to reform human rights laws so that they apply to people who arrange and fund their own care.

The Act already covers those being looked after in council-run facilities and in May last year there was a change in the law, which meant that legislation also protected elderly or disabled people who are looked after in their own homes.

But despite wide support in the House of Lords, an attempt to get the law similarly extended to those in private facilities was unsuccessful.

Pam, from Exeter, Devon, said the issue needed to be revisited as a matter of urgency.

“Sadly there are still many social care issues affecting older people which continue to raise human rights concerns, such as residents and patients who are neglected or not treated with dignity and respect,” she told the Exeter Express and Echo.

“Cruelty tends to happen out of laziness, ignorance or mostly lack of staff. But it won’t happen so much if the owners know everyone in their care home is protected by law under the Human Rights Act and have a remedy in court.”

Paul Burstow MP, a former government minister, has argued that the current discrepancy left pensioners in private homes with fewer rights than prison inmates.

“How can it be acceptable that if people rob a bank and go to prison, then their dignity and care are covered by the Act – but not an elderly person with dementia living in a care home?”

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