Advocates warn of human rights breaches

More than 400 independent advocates were surveyed about how Covid has affected their clients.
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Three-quarters of advocates believe the human rights of their clients have been breached during the pandemic, according to a national report.

The report was based on a survey of 435 independent advocates, who say people with disabilities, care home residents and inpatients on mental health wards have been affected.

Key findings

  • 76% of advocates said human rights of clients were not being upheld
  • 31% said Do Not Resusicate orders were placed on people without regard to the person’s wishes, formal capacity assessments or consultation with family
  • Half of advocates said care providers had stopped all visits
  • 47% said people were being confined to their rooms
  • More than a quarter said a care provider tried to prevent access to advocacy
  • Referrals for statutory advocacy were 32% lower, Mar-May 2020, compared to 2019

The findings echo the experience of our Reading Voice service, which provides statutory advocacy for a range of vulnerable people. Our visits to services were stopped, referrals dropped off, and we have been unable to rely on busy health or care staff to answer phones, pass on messages or facilitate phone or digital communication with clients. We are keen to fully reinstate face-to-face visits with clients (with appropriate PPE) but this depends on local Covid-19 infection rates as well as support from services to give us access to people on wards, care homes or in supported living accommodation.

The report states that as our nation faces a second wave of Covid ‘there must be a reinvigorated focus on human rights that recognises individual choice and control. We must make sure those responsible for planning, commissioning and providing health and social care support comply with the Care Act and Mental Capacity Act'.

Valuing voices: Protecting rights through the pandemic and beyond, was produced by advocacy organisations in partnership with the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi)

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