‘We have the same rights’ – a project by ENNHRI on the human rights of older persons in long-term care

‘We have the same rights’ – a project by ENNHRI on the human rights of older persons in long-term care

From 2015 to 2017, the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) conducted an EU-funded project with the goal of improving the human rights of older persons in long- term care (LTC). As part of the project, six of ENNHRI’s members – the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania and Romania – monitored the provision of residential long-term care in their countries to build a picture of how human rights are taken into account when planning and delivering LTC services in each jurisdiction.

ENNHRI’s 2017 report,We have the same rights: The Human Rights of Older Persons in Long-term Care in Europeidentifies the key trends in the human rights situation relating to LTC in Europe.

The ENNHRI Project identified the human rights standards are particularly relevant in the context of older persons in LTC and found that these rights are not always adequately protected. This is, in part, because older persons’ human rights are scattered throughout various human rights treaties and so may become side-lined.

The majority of caregivers in all care homes visited in the six countries adopt a person-centred approach and cared for older persons in care. Many good and innovative practices were reported. However, several practices raised concerns that not all human rights were protected, particularly upholding dignity, the right to privacy, autonomy, participation and access to justice. The project identified as main causes of the human rights concerns:

  • A lack of understanding of the human rights of older persons in LTC, both by care providers and older persons themselves;
  • Older persons autonomy was limited – older persons are not seen as rights holders;
  • A lack of resources, namely limited funding and the inadequate coverage of LTC in the context of an ageing population in Europe;
  • Connected to the funding issue, the poor work conditions faced by care providers is also a main issue, ultimately affecting the rights of older persons.

One of the project recommendations is the development and implementation of a human-rights based approach to long-term care. To do so, ENNHRI developed a toolkit aimed to help policy-makers and care providers throughout Europe to understand their human rights obligations to older persons seeking and in receipt of long-term care by demystifying human rights and how to apply them in policy and practices.


ENNHRI’s work on Older Persons’ Rights

ENNHRI brings together over 40 National Human Rights Institutions in Europe to work on a variety of issues, with the goal of enhancing the promotion and protection of human rights in Europe. The bulk of ENNHRI’s work on older persons’ rights in the past years has been carried out in the context of the EU-funded project on long-term care. In addition, ENNHRI supports its members particularly when engaging with regional and international stakeholders.

For more information about ENNHRI’s work on the human rights of older persons, you can contact Gabriel Almeida (ENNHRI, Human Rights Officer) at gabriel.almeida@ennhri.org


For more information:

  • ENNHRI Project: “We have the same rights: the Human Rights of Older Persons in Long-term Care in Europe”, available here.
  • “Respect My Rights: an ENNHRI Toolkit on Applying a Human Rights-Based Approach to Long-term Care for Older Persons”, available here.


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