At BIHR we know the difference human rights can make to helping achieve accountable and high quality health and care services. Our project Care and Support: A Human Rights Approach to Advocacy worked with six groups to ensure people with mental health and capacity issues have increased control and autonomy over treatment decisions, and make sure they are treated with dignity and respect.

Health and social care which respects, protects and fulfils human rights has an important role in ensuring people can live dignified lives and participate in decision making. A human rights approach offers fresh ways into the age-old problem of how to keep human beings, rather than systems or targets, at the heart of delivery. It can support culture change towards person-centred approaches. This requires increased understanding – particularly among patients, carers and service users and their advocates – of how human rights can be put into practice. This was at the heart of BIHR’s exciting partnership project, which was made possible by a grant from the Department of Health as part of their Voluntary Sector Investment Programme 2014-15.

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Who is involved?

BIHR was the lead organisation for this project, working to support six advocacy groups (as partners on the project):

Project aims

The focus of this project was to improve outcomes for people using services who have mental health and/or capacity issues. The project has four main aims:

  • Empower voluntary and community groups to support the people they work with who have mental health/capacity issues to have increased control and autonomy over treatment decisions and be treated with dignity and respect.
  • Enable advocacy and support organisations to embed a human rights approach across their work, particularly to support people with mental health/capacity issues.
  • Improve knowledge and confidence of service users to advocate for their own human rights in health and care settings.
  • Stregthen the ability of voluntary and community groups to disseminate learning on a human rights approach to advocacy and support in health and care.

Good practice examples

Visit our health hub to read more about the impact of the project, including a series of good practice examples on how human rights can help with Changing Lives.

Thank you again for the fantastic opportunity to be involved in the project, I have really enjoyed it and make use of the knowledge I gained almost everyday.

Myan Bourn, Multi Specialist Advocate

Project contact

Helen Wildbore, Senior Human Rights Officer at BIHR was the project liaison and is contactable on hwildbore@bihr.org.uk.