On 5 October, Sue Ryder presented at the Royal College of Nursing event, ‘What use are human rights in end of life care?’ to highlight the areas for development and discuss the changes that need to be made in order to embed a human rights approach to end of life care.
Respecting and protecting human rights
Sue Ryder’s Human Rights Lead, Jacqui Graves spoke alongside Nigel Dodds from the RCN Pain and Palliative Care Forum and Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, an Independent Crossbencher in the House of Lords since 2001 and a professor in palliative medicine.
Though the understanding and implementation of a human rights approach has always been important, the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted how the individual rights of patients receiving end of life care should be respected and protected. Those speaking at the event hope to shine a light on the need for system and legislative reform which will help focus more on human rights and put them at the forefront for patients and staff.
“Understanding how to implement a human rights approach to end of life care is vital if we are to give patients the respect and dignity they deserve when they are receiving end of life care”
Sue Ryder is a leading figure in the education of human rights in end of life care. The national healthcare charity worked with the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) to develop training to support the end of life care workforce in developing a greater understanding of how human rights provide a practical route for ensuring and promoting compassion and dignity at the end of life. Sue Ryder has adapted their training to offer online interactive training workshops on human rights during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jacqui Graves, Human Rights Lead at Sue Ryder, said:
“Understanding how to implement a human rights approach to end of life care is vital if we are to give patients the respect and dignity they deserve when they are receiving end of life care.
“At Sue Ryder, we have been working hard over the last three years to train health and social care workers to feel empowered and confident in embracing a human rights approach to end of life care. However, the health and social care system has a number of barriers to overcome if a human rights approach is to be adopted more widely.”
A range of barriers
The government must look at a range of barriers that currently act as a hindrance to the introduction of a human rights approach to end of life care, and healthcare more widely. For example, having skilled staff with the time to care is vital to respect the choices of someone who is dying. If the national shortage of nurses continues unabated and the vacancy rate we see today increases, understaffing could mean that healthcare workers do not have the time to identify the wishes of someone who is dying, let alone assist them in those choices.
The government must also consider including human rights in clinical guidelines and legislation, as without this, a human rights approach could just be seen as one option when it is actually the only option if we are to offer good-quality, person-led care.
More on our policy position and recommendations for the government and health care system in England can be found here. For our policy paper on human rights in end of life care in Scotland, visit here.
Human Rights and End of Life Care workshops
Get information or book your place on our What Matters to Me: a Human Rights Approach to End of Life Care online workshops, run by Sue Ryder's Human Rights Lead, Jacqui Graves.