Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

Preventing an older woman being moved from hospital to residential care against her wishes

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Janet was staying in hospital after a stroke. She had been a prisoner of war in Japan during World War Two, which had led to some mental health problems. Hospital staff saw Janet re-enacting experiences from her time as a POW, like washing her clothes with rocks and hanging them out to dry on the hospital fence. After some time, hospital staff wanted to move Janet to a care home, as it would be cheaper to provide care there.

Janet’s advocate, Steve, was concerned about this decision as Janet had said she wanted to return to her own home. The hospital was pushing for the care home placement because of the mental health issues Janet was displaying. However, working with Janet, Steve thought that it was being in the hospital’s institutional setting that was causing her to relive the past, and that a care home would make things worse.

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Steve accessed human rights training from BIHR. During his advocacy with the hospital and local authority Steve was able to refer to Janet’s human right to respect for private life under the Human Rights Act (Article 8), which includes having a say in decisions that affect us, and protecting mental well-being. He explained how putting Janet into residential care could compromise her human rights, whereas supporting her to return home as she wanted could respect her human rights and help her recover. Following Steve’s human rights advocacy, the local authority decided it was able to support Janet’s care at home.

In addition to protecting Janet’s human rights, Janet was supported to contribute to her own decisions about where she should live and is a classic example of how advocates work to ensure people’s voices are heard in decisions affecting their lives and well being.

This story was provided by our amazing colleagues working at the British Institute for Human Rights find our more about their work here https://www.bihr.org.uk/

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Author: kathparson

Chief Executive of Older People's Advocacy Alliance (UK)

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