Page last updated at 03:55 GMT, Thursday, 27 March 2008

Protection for elderly from abuse

Elderly person
The move will provide protection for some 300,000 elderly people

Thousands of elderly people living in private care homes could soon be protected from abuse by the Human Rights Act for the first time.

Ministers plan to overturn a court ruling which meant elderly people in private homes whose stay was council funded lacked protection from abuse.

Some 300,000 people will be affected and it is hoped the move will safeguard from abuses such as unfair eviction.

But some care home owners may be upset by the extra bureaucracy involved.

And some may argue that common law provides sufficient protection for the rights of elderly people.

'Culture change'

Last year the Select Committee on Human Rights highlighted the fact that 21% of hospital and care homes failed to meet even minimum standards on dignity and privacy.

Its report uncovered evidence of neglect, abuse, discrimination and unfair treatment of frail older people.

The committee heard evidence of care home residents being left lying in their own urine or excrement.

It criticised existing legislation, calling for an "entire culture change" and more legal protection for older people in care.

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