The Government has been criticised by Age UK for trying to drop a Care Bill amendment that protects the human rights of those who pay for their care. A legal loophole means that older people who pay for their own care do not have the same protections under the Human Rights Act as those whose care is paid for by the state.
In reality this means that anyone who pays for their own care in a care home, at home or who has state funded care via a contract with a third party and who experiences abuse or neglect has fewer rights than those whose residential care has been arranged by a public body, typically the local authority.
Age UK believes that everyone who needs care or support has the right to be treated with dignity and that all care providers should be promoting this right equally in the way they carry out their care. By making the law the same for all those providing care this is more likely to happen.
When the Care Bill was debated in the House of Lords last year, the Lords voted for an amendment – Clause 48 – giving those who paid for care the same rights as those who receive State care. Now that the Care Bill has gone back to the House of Commons the Government want to scrap the amendment.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, says: ‘Under the current system, 2 older people in the same care home can receive very different levels of protection under the Human Rights Act based solely on how their care has been arranged and paid for.
‘This is not only fundamentally wrong, it means that if an older person who pays for their care is abused or suffers from neglect and poor care they have less legal redress than someone in the same unfortunate position whose care is funded by the State.
‘175,000 older people in independent care homes pay for their own care in this country and it is appalling that they are second class citizens when it comes to the legal remedies available to them if they are abused or neglected.
‘The House of Lords made the right decision when they decided to amend the Care Bill by closing the loophole once and for all and the Government should support their decision, not seek to overturn it.
‘We are disappointed and surprised that the Government wants to keep this loophole intact because they have said they want to improve the position of older people who pay for their own care through this legislation. There is no better way to achieve this than by granting every older person equal access to legal redress if their care goes badly wrong.