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How we help: protecting older person’s right to live in her own home

A little known use of the Human Rights Act is in complementing local legislation to ensure older people receive the care they are entitled to.

Law Centre (NI)’s community care team often use the Act in tandem with local legislation when negotiating with the health board and trusts on behalf of clients.

In a recent case, the Act's Section 6 – a Local Authority must not act incompatibly with the ECHR  (Article 8 – right to respect for family and private life and Article 5 – not to be deprived of liberty were both engaged in this instance) helped the Law Centre ensure that a client’s wish to live in her own home was respected.

The Alzheimer’s Society referred her to the Law Centre when she was discharged into residential care against her wishes and those of her family.

The Trust had decided that she lacked capacity and argued that the move into residential care was in her best interest. Her close family felt that she did have the capacity to decide but the Trust had not taken their views into consideration and had not carried out a full assessment of capacity.

The Law Centre contacted the Trust and its legal department. The adviser argued that failing to carry out a proper assessment and placing her in residential care without her consent was in breach of the Human Rights Act as well as capacity caselaw and the Department’s own guidance.

The Trust was persuaded to carry out an assessment of needs. The client was discharged and a care package was put in place so she could live safely at home.

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