Working together to protect the rights of people in social care

by Marcial Boo

Published: 28 Jul 2023

Marcial Boo and Nigel Ellis from LGSCO stand in front of a wall with the Equality and Human Rights Commission on it

Regulators and ombudsman schemes play vital roles in making sure people are treated fairly and can get redress when things go wrong.

These goals should be straightforward to achieve, but some cases can become complex. That’s why I’m delighted that the Equality and Human Rights Commission has just signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO).

The LGSCO is responsible for investigating individual complaints about local councils, adult social care providers, including care homes and home care agencies, and some other public services too. They look particularly at whether these organisations have made decisions in the right way, and they can make recommendations for action and redress.

Our organisations

We have had a great working relationship with the LGSCO for many years. Signing an MoU with them is another important step to strengthen our collaboration to benefit the public.

It means we can share information and intelligence in a structured way to identify where we can work together to protect people’s rights, such as for those in social care.

The LGSCO already incorporates equality and human rights into its work. For example, the LGSCO has recently published its findings about how councils provide reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities and the learning from complaints about people’s everyday human rights when receiving public services.

In Britain, we are privileged to have strong equality and human rights laws. They were not easily won. Indeed, current legislation builds on previous laws that trace their origins right back to the Magna Carta of 1215. But laws only remain strong if they are enforced. So we want all regulators and ombudsman schemes to consider equality and human rights in their work, and we’re delighted that the LGSCO does so.

Challenging social care decisions

In February this year, we published findings from our inquiry into the experiences of social care users and carers who challenged decisions made by local authorities in England and Wales. We found a system failing those who need it. Instead of upholding people’s rights, complicated council processes deterred people from seeking help.

As we conducted this work, the LGSCO provided important evidence and information to help identify options for improvement. We continue to work with them to follow up our inquiry recommendations.

Part of everyone’s lives

We are all likely to get to know the social care system. Maybe our parents or other elderly relatives need care. Maybe we will need it ourselves.

Good adult social care helps people to live well, with dignity and independence, protecting their human rights.

But the social care system in England and Wales is struggling. In many places people’s needs are not being met, in part due to tight budgets. The consequences can be significant. Some older or vulnerable adults may not have support with their personal hygiene, their food preparation or just to stay warm. It’s therefore vital that those in receipt of care, and their carers, can challenge the decisions made by local authorities about adult social care if there are concerns.

The new MoU with the LGCSO will help us to continue to work effectively together to ensure that people who receive social care are treated not only with proper dignity and respect, but in line with the UK’s strong equality and human rights law.

I look forward to developing our work together to ensure the ongoing compliance by local councils and care providers with these protections. Britain will be a fairer place to be cared for as a result.

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