‘ Give Us Back Our Values’: The Best Ways to Use Human Rights Law in Social Work

Previously this year, previous care minister Norman Lamb explained the care gotten by people with learning impairments as an abuse of human rights. His remarks came throughout Seven Days of Action, a project led by households to shine a spotlight on the countless people with autism and learning troubles presently apprehended in some type of inpatient setting.

Among those included is Mark Neary, dad of Steven Neary. Mark needed to take legal action versus his local authority back in 2011 when they chose not to return his kid home, after a short remain in break care became a year-long experience. At the British Institute of Human Rights, we hear comparable stories all frequently– of services stopping working people with learning impairments and their households.

Over the last 3 years, we have been working carefully with social employees in a series of pilot plans throughout England to talk about how they can use human rights to assist provide thoughtful care. This is not almost reconnecting with social work values, but also training social employees to see how human rights structures can aid with choice making as well as change the culture of an organization.


The links in between social work values and human rights may appear apparent, but increasing caseloads and austerity pressures mean going back to human rights can, as one social employee associated with the job informed an independent critic, “help, in tough times, to offer us back our values in a significant way”.

Another social employee informed the critic that they used human rights legislation in securing conferences, “consisting of the language of self-respect and regard, to provide a sharper, harder edge to our issues around problems of the overlook. It has assisted us to reveal our issues as matter as a matter of law, something concrete.”.

Choice Making

Using the Human Rights Act is not something for social employees to fear, or to merely be handed down to legal representatives. It can, in fact, be a beneficial tool for professionals. Empowering social employees about their responsibilities under the Human Rights Act means they might use the law to assist make (typically challenging) frontline choices.

Lisa, a senior dementia professional from Bristol, for instance, informed us: “I had the ability to challenge bad practice around preparing the care path of a customer using a human rights method. The customer’s own desires to reside in her own home were not provided proper weight and thinking of the variety of human rights included implied she was provided a far more dignified, considerate way to be supported to reside in her own home.”.

Another social employee reported that “service users are informing us they feel the advantage”. Nina * was moved numerous miles far from her household when transitioning from teen psychological health services to adult care, and the distress led her to self-harm. Nina’s social employee and supporter interacted to work out with the scientific commissioning group, using her right to domesticity as safeguarded by Article 8 of the Human Rights Act. Nina was moved to a system much better to home.

Altering Cultures

As social employees increase their understanding of and self-confidence about human rights, this has the possible to change their organization. One social employee associated with the task reported that using a human rights method “has enhanced the culture of our organization. I started skeptical about what distinction the task would make, but there has been a huge reverse and the service is much better as an outcome.”.

As the external environment for social services becomes significantly hard, social employees inform us they feel more extended but also feel a higher must go back to their values. Embedding human rights throughout social work can empower social employees with the understanding and self-confidence they should perform important work and guarantee people like Steven Neary do not slip through the web once again.