The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
We all have rights. Your rights are important and understanding them can help you ensure that you are treated fairly and not discriminated against.
Laws such as the Human Rights Act, the Equality Act, the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act and the Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act exist to protect your rights and governments, health boards, and local authorities (known in law as public bodies) must uphold and respect your rights
Right Not To Be Discriminated Against
Age is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act. This places a legal requirement on public bodies to avoid direct or indirect discrimination.
As well as age, it is illegal to discriminate against someone based on their sex, race, disability, pregnancy or maternity, sexual orientation, religion or belief, or gender reassignment.
The Human Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate against you accessing your human rights.
Dignity and Respect
Under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act, care professionals are required to treat you with dignity and respect.
The Mental Capacity Act protects the right of people to participate in decisions about their lives as fully as possible.
The Human Rights Act prohibits torture and inhuman treatment.
Decisions that Affect You
The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act states that you have the right to have your voice heard in decisions made about any care or support you receive. If you do not have someone who can help you to have your voice heard, you may have the right to an Independent Professional Advocate.
The Mental Health Act gives you the right to be involved in decisions about healthcare, support and treatment relating to your mental health. This includes the right to have the support of an Independent Mental Health Advocate.
The Mental Capacity Act gives you the right, in certain circumstances, to the support of an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate to ensure that decisions are taken in your best interest.
If a decision is being made about someone else who lacks mental capacity and you are speaking on their behalf, you also have the right to the support of an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate.
Right to Work Whatever Your Age
There is no compulsory retirement age in the UK. Employers used to be able to force workers to retire at the age of 65, but this has been abolished.
In some cases, an employer can force you to retire by law. This is known as ‘compulsory retirement age’. If they do this, they must give you a good reason why.
You may still be made redundant from your job or be dismissed if you are unable to do your job, but these decisions must not be taken because of your age.
Right to Have a Say About Where and how You Live
The Human Rights Act protects you against interference with your home life.
The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act gives you the right to participate in decisions about your care and support including where you live and to have your independence and well-being promoted.
If you move to a care home, you should be consulted on where you want to live and whether you are happy to share a room.
If you live in a care home or receive homecare you have the right to set out your personal preferences about how your care is delivered.
Right to Health
The right to health is internationally recognised as a fundamental human right.
Although there is no specific UK law which protects your right to health, the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights gives you the right to the highest standard of health.
This does not mean that you are entitled to any type of treatment. The Government must provide the highest possible standards of healthcare, taking into account a variety of factors, including cost.
If you have any concerns about your care or treatment, you should raise them with your GP or with healthcare professionals. If you do not wish to talk to the staff concerned or it doesn’t help, you can also raise your concerns with the Health Board via the ‘Putting Things Right’ process. A family member, friend or representative of the Community Health Council (free, confidential advice & support service) can support you.
Right to be Safe and Protected
The Human Rights Act protects you from being treated in an inhuman or degrading way. Public bodies are therefore legally required to ensure that your rights are upheld.
The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act requires a local authority to investigate if it suspects that you are at risk of abuse and neglect and take action to protect you if it decides that you are at risk.
Right to be You
The Human Rights Act protects your rights as an individual. This includes respect for family and home life, freedom of belief, expression and assembly, and protection from discrimination.
The Equality Act requires people and organisations that provide services and goods to respect your rights as an individual.
The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure gives the Welsh language equal status with English in Wales. Many public bodies must comply with Welsh Language Standards, which set out how organisations are expected to use the Welsh language in different situations.