This page collates some examples of how BIHR's partners have been using human rights in practice to improve health and care services. The stories are examples of Changing Organisations, where practitioners have used human rights to change their internal practices/policies. You can read examples about Changing Lives on our best practice page.

Changing Organisations

Balancing people’s right to respect for private life

“As a provider of mental healthcare and accommodation, St Martin of Tours Housing Association supports people with mental health issues and with offender backgrounds who need help to maintin their independence or to step down from secure hospital wards, prisons and similar situations. Prior to getting involved in BIHR’s project, we were very hands off about room searches, drugs and managing visitors. It was very liberating to find out that the right to respect for private life is a non-absolute right which can be balanced against the rights of others, prevention of crime etc. We’ve been able to use that framework to build room searches into residents’ care plans and help keep drugs out of the ‘projects’ (housing units). We also had a blanket ban on visitors going upstairs in our projects because some residents had a history of sexual offences. We’ve now used human rights to amend our policy and assess visiting on an individual basis, which allows us to balance safety against resident’s right to privacy.”

Paul Holden, Operations Manager, St. Martin of Tours HA Ltd, from BIHR’s Delivering Compassionate Care project

Respecting private and family life on a mental health ward for young people

The St Aubyn Centre is a Tier 4 service. Young people are admitted from all over the country, potentially separating them from their family and friends for many weeks. An ongoing problem for staff, common to many mental health in-patient services, has been managing access to mobile phones and the internet. There are additional concerns with young people around internet grooming, exploitation and inappropriate usage. This made staff fearful of being blamed for allowing such access and potentially placing a young person in a vulnerable position whilst in their care. This resulted in young people not having access to phones and the internet. Following their involvement in BIHR’s Delivering Compassionate Care project, St Aubyn applied a human rights approach and individualised care planning and have made the following changes:

  • Mobile phones: previously the service policy banned young people’s use of mobile phones due to safety concerns (both harm to the young person or them using the phones for harm). The policy was reviewed and now all young people have access to their mobile phones, with safety concerns being managed on an individual basis, giving more responsibility to the young person. This has improved young people’s ability to maintain contact with their family and friends and provided staff with a framework for managing access issue.
  • Internet access: this had also been restricted due to safety concerns. The service drafted a new policy, allowing young people access to the internet, with safety concerns being addressed by staff on an individual basis. The aim is to further improve young people’s contact with their family and friends, and gives staff a clear framework to respect rights and uphold their duties to protect against harm.