2020 applicants
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Covid funding to protect rights in care homes

  • Date

    Wed 14 Oct 20

Two hands, one of an elderly person photographed in black and white

Essex researchers have secured vital funding to provide training that will help protect the rights of those living and working in care homes.

Residential care homes have been at the centre of the Covid-19 pandemic with many being locked down for months, blanket use of do no resuscitate orders, and residents denied visits and even in some cases access to routine as well as urgent medical care.

Professor Wayne Martin, from the School of Philosophy and Art History, and Professor Sabine Michalowski, from the School of Law, will lead a £215,000 project, with 80% of the funding provided by the UKRI COVID-19 Rapid Response funding scheme, to help ensure human rights are upheld.

“We are all aware of the public health crisis that we are living through, and of the economic crisis associated with it, but there is also a human rights crisis, and care homes have been at its epicentre,” said Professor Martin, Director of the Essex Autonomy Project (EAP).

“Some residents have found themselves confined to their bedrooms for extended periods, denied visits with loved ones, without access to hospital care, palliative care or even access to a GP. Just this week the Care Quality Commission has announced an urgent investigation into the unlawful use of ‘Do Not Attempt Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation’ orders. At the same time, care home staff have been placed in an impossible position.”

The new funding will support the EAP’s existing partnership with the National Mental Capacity Forum and its CPD training for frontline staff with responsibility for assessing the lawfulness of deprivations of liberty for residents in care homes in England and Wales.


Professor Wayne Martin wearing a white shirt and wire-rimmed glasses
"We are all aware of the public health crisis that we are living through, and of the economic crisis associated with it, but there is also a human rights crisis, and care homes have been at its epicentre."
Professor Wayne Martin school of philosophy and art history

The aim of the project is to determine how best to ensure human rights are protected, both during the pandemic and in the ‘new normal’ that will follow.

It was described by one independent expert who reviewed the grant proposal as “ethically, normatively, and practically important. The project has a very high potential for impact…especially the CPD curriculum which will bring the research’s findings straight to the persons engaged in real life with protecting and advocating for the rights of persons in institutional care settings.”

Professor Martin added: “We have heard a lot about the need to protect the NHS. But there is an equally important need to protect the care homes, and in particular to protect the human rights of those living and working there. We are making a small contribution to that larger effort, providing research support to key national public bodies and human rights training to local authorities.”

The team will work with best-interests assessors and independent mental capacity advocates.

Professors Martin and Michalowski are members of the Human Rights Centre.