Protecting human rights during the pandemic
Covid-19 discriminates against all people who have long term support needs.
In the UK, almost all people with learning disabilities and autism live either with their family or with support in their own home or in a community-based service. For them, access to care and support is vital. It forms a part of their fundamental and basic human rights but sometimes they must shout to be heard.
The large number of deaths resulting from the pandemic has highlighted that the virus does discriminate. It discriminates against older people, disabled people, the long-term sick, terminally ill people, and the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic population. They are the ones who have suffered the full adverse impact of Covid-19.
Last year, the powers granted by the Coronavirus Act increased the opportunity for potential inequalities and contraventions to human rights. The Act was criticised widely. Concerns were raised about the powers it gave to local councils, who could limit or turn off their care package obligations under the Care Act for disabled citizens in their authority.
According to a survey of 410 family carers conducted by the learning disability charity, Mencap: “A staggering 87% of people with a learning disability who had their social care cut have still have not had all their support reinstated eight months on from the first lockdown”.
As a provider of social care, we play a significant role in the protection and promotion of human rights. Implementing human rights means that people enjoy life the way they want to and not the way public bodies want them to.
We will be monitoring the current review of the Human Rights Act 1998 closely. It is our hope that the Act is strengthened rather than weakened when it comes to protecting disabled people, people with learning disabilities and/or autism.
We understand that we cannot expect to improve people's health and wellbeing, if we are not ensuring that their fundamental human rights are respected.
Sarah Maguire, our CEO, says: “Even with legislation, the rights of people with learning disabilities and those who have no voice or those people who are marginalised are often just ignored. This is why families can become so vocal and angry that they have to shout to be heard”.
Read the full Mencap family carer survey results here.