Some good news...
"After a long time of neglect, there is an increasing awareness and recognition of the human rights of older persons within the international human rights community. Several stakeholders have issued a call for a ‘UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons’. In a recent article in the Human Rights Law Review, entitled ‘The Human Rights of Older Persons: A Growing Challenge’, Frédéric Mégret does an excellent job assessing these developments. Mégret shows that the rights of older persons should be approached through a human rights framework and that this is an issue which human rights lawyers cannot afford to ignore any longer.
So far, the European Court of Human Rights has not exactly produced a rich case law on the human rights of older persons. Perhaps this is not surprising, given that the European Convention and its Protocols are silent on the issue of rights for the elderly (in contrast to the European Social Charter (see article 23) and the Charter on Fundamental Rights of the European Union (article 21 and 25)). However, this might be changing. There is definitely potential in the Court’s legal analysis to mainstream the rights of older persons. This blog post focuses on that potential through the lens of two cases that were handed down in July: Heinisch v. Germany and Georgel and Georgeta Stoicescu v. Romania." From: http://strasbourgobservers.com/2011/09/05/mainstreaming-the-human-rights-of-older-persons/
The case of Heinisch v Germany is terrifically important as it concerns an instance of whistleblowing (which has been discussed in a previous post) in a care home. The judgement states:
“In societies with an ever growing part of their elderly population being subject to institutional care, and taking into account the particular vulnerability of the patients concerned, who often may not be in a position to draw attention to shortcomings in the care rendered on their own initiative, the dissemination of information about the quality or deficiencies of such care is of vital importance with a view to preventing abuse.” (par 71)
This is important because it not only draws attention to the fact that elderly patients may be vulnerable but also recognises that they may not (for various reasons) be at liberty to make a complaint themselves.
For a much fuller discussion please see: http://strasbourgobservers.com/2011/09/05/mainstreaming-the-human-rights-of-older-persons/