Safe from degrading treatment
Today we are looking at the Right to be Safe from Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. An advocate might work with this right in the role of a Paid Relevant Person’s Representative (or paid RPR). A paid RPR works with someone who can’t make decisions about their own care and treatment, which is known as lacking capacity, (maybe because of memory impairment or learning difficulty), is being deprived of their liberty under what’s known as a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (or DoLS) authorisation, and does not have family or friends who are able or willing to take on the role as RPR.
The RPR helps the person understand their DoLS authorisation, as far as possible, and to make sure their rights to challenge the deprivation are upheld. To do this, the RPR has to visit the person regularly, keep up to date with how they are, and check that any restrictions placed upon them are in their best interests.
How we help protect Human Rights
Jenny*, one of our advocates, supported Albert* who who lived in a care home, and needed the care staff to meet all of his needs because he had advanced dementia. Prior to Covid-19, Jenny was visiting him regularly, and his family also visited – no one in his family wanted to take on the role of RPR.
These regular visits were stopped at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak and Jenny started ringing the home every two weeks to check how Albert was. Jenny noted that Albert's health was declining; he had lost a lot of weight and had been in hospital with a chest infection.
Jenny was concerned that the GP didn’t seem to be as involved with Albert as might have been expected, given his declining health, and that a referral hadn’t been made to the dietitian. Jenny also noted that food supplements that the GP had prescribed some weeks earlier were not been given. Jenny asked the care home manager to speak to Albert's GP about a referral to the dietitian, and to chase up the food supplement prescription.
Jenny contacted the Safeguarding Adults Team in the Local Authority and told them she was concerned that Albert might not be being cared for in the home in a satisfactory way that was meeting all of his needs. Jenny also told the safeguarding team that she thought Albert might be being kept in his room because of a fear of possible Covid infection; if this was the case, it would be a further deprivation of his liberty, and the action would need to be added to the DoLS, with a justification as to why it was in Albert's best interest.
The safeguarding team subsequently contacted the care home manager asking for full information on Albert's care plans and why he was being kept in his room.
The care home manager chased up the referral to the dietician and prescription, resulting in food supplements being delivered and the dietician visiting Albert in the care home. Discussions were had about how the care home could make sure he was able to go out of his room, while maintaining his and other residents’ safety.