Occupational therapist in white uniform cares for man lying in bed

A human rights approach to end-of-life care

Human rights underpin much of the law, policy and practice of end-of-life care. They can act as a framework for ethical decision-making and ensuring compassion and dignity for people at the end of their lives.

What are human rights?

Our human rights are the basic rights and freedoms we have because we are human.

They provide a set of minimum standards, outlined in law, for how the government should treat us.

Human rights are based on the shared values of fairness, respect, equality, dignity and autonomy.

Human Rights for our patients are not a separate part of our care but at the heart of it.

It can be extremely difficult, even impossible, for someone in their last weeks and days to advocate for themselves.

End-of-life care professionals therefore must become confident in advocating for them. Learning about a human rights approach to end-of-life care empowers staff to do this confidently.

When staff are able to think about things through a human rights lens, and what an individual might need in order for them to have their basic rights, they see things differently.

The Care Quality Commission: Out of sight? Who cares - a human rights issue

How is Sue Ryder helping?

Some people in the UK are still experiencing poor end-of-life care. As a sector leader in quality end-of-life care, Sue Ryder has been working to change this in two ways:

  • offering training to other palliative and end-of-life care providers
  • a practitioners guide, produced in collaboration with the British Institute for Human Rights (BIHR).
Patient sat up in her bed, smiling at a member of the Sue Ryder care team
Training: A human rights approach to end-of-life care
Our online training workshop empowers health and social care professionals to deliver personalised, compassionate and dignified end-of-life care.
The front cover of the End of life care human rights practitioners guide
Practitioner’s guide: End-of-life care and human rights
This guide is for practitioners caring for people at the end of their lives. This may be in a hospice, a care home, a hospital or in the community (including people’s homes).
The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, with people and traffic going past on the street
Our campaigns
Our influencing team campaigns for the rights of people at their end of their life through calling for changes in policy and practice across the sector.