Eleanor Roosevelt, 1958

'Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person... Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.' Eleanor Roosevelt, 1958

The Small Places has moved...

The Small Places has moved to a new home here, including all the old posts. Any posts after 6th March 2014 will appear on the new website, but old posts are preserved here so that URLs linking here continue to work. Please check out the new site.

Friday, 21 October 2011

The inspection frequency pendulum swings again?

As regular readers of this blog will know, I am interested in how human rights can be protected through social care regulation.  A while ago I wrote a piece which discussed how over the last decade the approach to regulation of social care had changed from a methodology that relied upon high levels of inspection to a methodology that used risk-based proportionate inspections.  I wanted to follow up on a couple of things from that piece.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Transparency... Coming to a "secret" court near you?

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Family Courts Information Pilot, a project trialled by the Ministry of Justice and some participating courts whereby written judgments were produced for certain types of cases.  The point of the project was to enable a) children to have access to written judgments in cases that were about them in later life, and b) the public to have access to anonymised versions of these judgments via the website Bailii.

At the time of writing I felt pretty despondent about the likelihood the government would roll out the scheme nationally because of the resources required to produce the anonymised judgments, in a family court system under high pressure.  But on Thursday a comment in the government's response to the House of Commons Justice Committee report on the Operation of the Family Courts made my heart lift:

Friday, 7 October 2011

Article 8 and tea without sugar

The Care Quality Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission  have a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate them working together to promote a human rights approach to social care regulation.  They have issued some new guidance for CQC inspectors to help them understand and promote equality and human rights compliance in care settings.  I've just had a quick look through the guidance, and I am really impressed by the approach they are taking.  Not so long ago I was bemoaning the untapped potential of Article 8 in social care on the UK Human Rights blog.  The CQC and EHRC guidance makes clear that even the "small things" have potential human rights implications, as this example from this document (pdf) shows:

Mental Capacity Act and Tenancy: An open question

[This piece is cross-posted from the brilliant Nearly Legal blog, who I approached with a question about contracts and tenancies. Readers interested in capacity and housing issues might also be interested in a paper by the National Development Team for Inclusion called 'The Real Tenancy Test'. Over to Nearly Legal - answers on a postcard please...]

I have had a question from the editor of the Small Places blog, which is a very fine blog on human rights and community care, with attention to Court of Protection matters. I think it is a question which might benefit from the assembled housing law mavens who read NL from time to time.

The question concerns the position of someone lacking capacity under the Mental Capacity Act 1985 when an independent tenancy is sought. There is conflicting guidance and threatening case law to deal with.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Cooperation and coercion

In 1948 we abolished the Poor Law, requiring people to support their relatives on their own or face “indoor relief”, but you wouldn’t realise it talking to many carers. I have lost count of the number of times I have met – or heard of – carers who believe they have a stark choice: either continue to provide care that is draining your own health and reserves, or your loved one will be removed from the home and placed in residential care. I have met carers who provide support virtually round the clock who just need a little more support to keep going – perhaps a few more hours a week, perhaps a holiday once a year – who have been given the impression that if they ask for more help, if they make a fuss, they will be recorded as “unable to cope” and their loved one will be removed. Or, even sadder still, carers who have given up begging for vital support and who feel the only option available to them now is to give up their caring role altogether and concede that they cannot cope.