A 72-year-old man has successfully used the Human Rights Act (HRA) in a case against a local authority care home which prevented him from leaving the premises. The man is blind and is further incapacitated as a result of having had a stroke. He did not wish to remain in the home however, preferring to live at home with his wife.
The care home did allow residents to come and go, but this necessitated operating a keypad, which the man could not do. He was told by the staff at the home that he could not leave and his wife had been discouraged from visiting him when he was initially placed in the home.
The couple claimed that, in effect, the man was being deprived of his liberty, contrary to article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The High Court agreed and the fact that this arose through misrepresentation of the degree of authority the care home staff held over him, and that they could not legally have prevented him from leaving, was not in point.
Many families experience difficulty in dealing with local authorities over matters such as this and, on occasions, staff may overstep the mark. If you are having problems of this nature, we may be able to help.
The provision of care for the elderly is often contracted out to private care homes. The House of Lords recently ruled that a woman placed by Birmingham Council in a private care home was not entitled to bring an action under the HRA to contest a decision to remove her. The woman claimed that her threatened eviction interfered with her right to family life, which is guaranteed under the Act.
The House of Lords placed weight on the fact that the private care home was a ‘for profit’ organisation and not one which had a primary ethos of public service. It concluded that the HRA does not apply in such circumstances.
It would therefore appear that one’s ability to rely on the HRA in such cases depends on whether the care home is run by a public or private body.