Local authorities and central government were today urged to carry out Human Rights Impact Assessments before making budgetary decisions to ensure the needs of the most vulnerable are prioritised.
Speaking at this year’s Festival of Politics, Professor Alan Miller of the Scottish Human Rights Commission stressed that older people shouldn’t be considered one of the “easiest hits” for cuts by virtue of the fact that they may not be the section of community most empowered or able to argue their claims in the public arena.
Miller said that the commission has been working with local authorities and private providers of care to increase their awareness of the duties they have to respect the rights of older persons, adding that it will be launching an awareness raising pack on September 9 at the Scottish Youth Theatre in
“By early next year there will have been almost 1,000 people in the care sector at management level, workers level and policy level whose awareness will have been increased as to what human rights actually means,” Miller said.
The ‘Ageing – A dignified future’ event began this year’s Festival of Politics, which will be held in the Scottish Parliament until Saturday 21 August. At the event, which also featured Age Scotland’s David Manion and was chaired by Sandra White MSP, convener of the Cross Party Group on Older People, Age and Ageing, Miller also discussed the early work of the commission surrounding the procurement of care services for older people.
Public procurement for care services for older people has been “systemically not helpful” in raising the quality of care for older people, he said.
He continued: “There was an undue emphasis on value for money and the commission and tendering and criteria for evaluating the ‘who did what’ of services for older people did not enable older people themselves to play a meaningful part in that whole process. The quality of care for older people wasn’t given sufficient weight as the commercial value for money did, and systemically, therefore, conditions and care for older people had been driven down rather than upwards through the way the procurement system was working.”
Fortunately, however, he said the Scottish Government has been conducting a review of how the procurement system works and, having provided them with some detailed practical recommendations, Miller said he was encouraged by indications that many of these recommendations are going to be reflected in changes to the procurement system, which, he said, “will be for the benefit of improving the quality of care of older persons.”