Rights & the Rights-based approach

Rights, according to EQUASS:

Social Service Providers are committed to protect, promote and respect the rights of the person served in terms of equal opportunities, equal treatment and freedom of choice, self-determination and equal participation. This commitment is visible in the organisational values and in all elements of service development, service delivery of the social service provider. Social Service providers ensure that persons served understand and approve all their proposed individual interventions.

The Rights-based approach

The Health Information and Quality Authority of Ireland:

2019 Guidance on a Human Rights-based Approach in Health and Social Care Services. A human rights-based approach to care and support seeks to ensure that the human rights of people using health and social care services are protected, promoted and supported in practice, and embedded in the culture of a service. Central to such an approach is putting people using services and their legally protected rights at the centre of policy-making, service development and day-to-day practice.

Human rights are about people being treated with fairness, respect, equality and dignity, having a say over their lives and participating as fully as possible in decisions about their care and support. For more information, see their website here

According to the Scottish Human Rights Commission:

A human rights based approach is about ensuring that both the standards and the principles of human rights are integrated into policymaking as well as the day to day running of organisations.

The PANEL principles

There are some underlying principles which are of fundamental importance in applying a human rights based approach in practice. These are:

  • participation: individuals should participate in all decisions about the care and support they are receiving.
  • accountability:effective monitoring of human rights standards as well as effective remedies for human rights breaches.
  • non-discrimination and equality: all forms of discrimination in the realisation of rights must be prohibited, prevented and eliminated. It also requires the prioritisation of those in the most marginalised situations who face the biggest barriers to realising their rights.
  • empowerment: This means that everyone...should understand what their rights are and how they can claim these rights.
  • legality: Care providers and all other accountable bodies must be sure that their practices and procedures are grounded in human rights law. 


Report: Disability rights towards a rights-based approach to long-term care in Europe: Final report. Building an index of rights-based policies for older people

A human rights-based approach to care puts older people with support needs at the centre, empowering them to participate in decision-making and to claim their rights. At the same time, a rights-based approach demands accountability from the state and from institutional actors who bear the responsibility to uphold these rights. See more here.