10 December 2019
In her latest blog for us, Beth Britton celebrates Human Rights Day and challenges us all to uphold human rights as a beacon of fairness
“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
This quote is prominent on the United Nations Human Rights Day web page and seems like the perfect opening for this blog too. Human rights have, in many respects, come a long way since the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Human rights are more comprehensively applied than they would have been 71 years ago, and in the UK we’ve had the Human Rights Act since 1998.
The United Nations say:
• The Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers us all.
• Human rights are relevant to all of us, every day.
• Our shared humanity is rooted in these universal values.
• Equality, justice and freedom prevent violence and sustain peace.
• Whenever and wherever humanity’s values are abandoned, we all are at greater risk.
• We need to stand up for our rights and those of others.
Despite all of this, however, there is still so much to be done, not least in educating everyone about their human rights.
If I asked you to name a human right, could you?
This is a question I pose to social care professionals during my training sessions, and most people struggle to name one.
For anyone wondering what the answer is, the rights that I feel are most relevant in the context of health and social care include:
• The Right to life
• The Right to freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment
• The Right to liberty and security
• The Right to respect for your private and family life, home and correspondence
• The Right to freedom of thought, belief and religion
• The Right to freedom of expression
• The Right to protection from discrimination in respect of these rights and freedoms
• The Right to peaceful enjoyment of your property
Human rights and dementia
One of the reasons human rights are so firmly fixed on my agenda is because of the way in which people living with dementia have championed them. Dementia Alliance International (DAI) have done some amazing work in relation to these rights and dementia. DAI say:
“Our mission includes Human Rights based approaches that are applied to the pre and post-diagnostic experiences of people with a dementia, in every way. We advocate for a more ethical pathway of support that includes our human right to full rehabilitation and full inclusion in civil society; ‘nothing about us, without us.’”
In the UK, The Dementia Policy Think Tank, a DEEP network member, co-produced ‘Our Dementia, Our Rights’ and say of this publication:
“Rights can help us to uphold shared values in challenging circumstances. The language of rights can help you feel more confident and empowered.”
Human Rights Day
Today is an important day to remind us all to do as Eleanor Roosevelt says and begin by safeguarding human rights close to home. In many ways live-in care is a perfect example of how, as a person ages, their right to enjoyment of their property, freedom of expression, and respect for private and family life – to name just some rights – can be protected. Keeping these rights at the heart of health and care, as explained in this British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) blog benefits everyone, particularly the most vulnerable in our society. To conclude with the words of the BIHR:
“Human rights are not a complicated legal issue to be dealt with by judges and lawyers. They can be simple tools that can be used to make everyday decisions.”
About the author:
Beth Britton is an award-winning content creator, consultant, trainer, mentor, campaigner and speaker who is an expert in ageing, health and social care.
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