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Progress on efforts to implement a human-rights based approach to health and social care

Published 13/11/2019

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Age Action welcomes today’s publication of the ‘Guidance on a Human Rights-based Approach in Health and Social Care Services’ published today by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) in conjunction with Safeguarding Ireland.

Age Action supports a rights-based approach which empowers people to know and claim their rights. If people know and claim their rights in how they decide what health and social care services they wish to receive, this will in turn impact the quality of health and social care services as providers will be held to account to higher standards of person-centred care.

In addition to existing HIQA standards, today’s publication is a welcome resource to assist both service users and staff and organisations working with adults across health and social care services to understand how human rights principles apply in health and social care services on a day-to-day basis.

We are pleased to see that the publication includes discussion on the complex situations that occur in practice where many factors need to be considered, such as balancing an individual’s will and preferences, and – at times – competing human rights. We hope to see a better understanding across health and social care services of how to uphold human rights, and better guidance for staff in practice in overcoming the challenges that arise when the organisational protocols are seemingly at odds with a rights-based approach e.g. options for transgender people in single sex residential units.

Age Action remains disappointed that significant legislative and policy gaps continue to exist in the area. While enacted, the new Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 will not be commenced until Q4 2020. Key elements which should be fast-tracked for commencement include: Arrangements for the making of Enduring Powers of Attorney; a legal framework for Advance Healthcare Directives. In addition, related legislation on the deprivation of liberty - which will provide safeguards for people living in or going to live in residential settings – has also seen delays in its progress into law.

An Adult Safeguarding Bill has been in development since 2017 to replace or cover out of date or non-existent legislation in the area. When underpinned by a regulatory framework for adult safeguarding, this will provide for the protection of at risk adults and statutory powers to ensure adherence.

The expedition of these legislative and resulting policy changes will ensure that rights, freedoms and dignity of people are promoted and protected.

ENDS

 

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The design of the new Automatic Enrolment Retirement Savings Scheme is inadequate and fails to address existing inequalities in the State pension system

 

 

Equality for older people requires the re-distribution of resources; power and influence; status and standing; and respect.  Many older people live in the most vulnerable situations in our society with no capacity to increase their income while dealing with the increasing cost of ageing. A new autoenrolment scheme that further drives existing inequalities is simply unacceptable

A Strawman proposal for the new autoenrolment scheme was published in August 2018. A number of substantial concerns were raised at this time regarding the lack of information and clarity around the new scheme. Publication of the revised scheme – with little change from the initial 2018 proposal – in October 2019 saw little additional information made available on a range of crucial areas.

Paddy Connolly, Age Action CEO notes: “Efforts to increase pension coverage, while ensuring greater numbers of people are kept above the poverty line and in income adequacy in retirement are welcome. However, details of the new auto-enrolment scheme offer little information on how the new scheme will be implemented across relevant sectors and outside of paid work, and how it will help prevent further inequalities between those in higher and lower earning jobs, according to gender, and for those who are long-term unemployed.”