Following a recent decision of the Law Lords that the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) does not apply to care homes which are run privately, the Government has announced it is to change the law.

The case involved an elderly woman who was required to leave her care home after disagreements between her family and the home’s management. She argued that the decision was a breach of her human rights in that it would violate her right to family life, but since the HRA, as it stands now, applies only to public bodies, it did not come to her assistance.

By amending the law to include privately-run care homes, residents of care homes will gain improved protection from abuse and threats of eviction in similar circumstances. It is intended to make the necessary amendment by changing the Health and Social Care Bill, which is currently in Parliament. The Bill will create a new regulator, the Care Quality Commission, which will have extensive regulatory powers. It will also require the professional bodies which represent members of professions in the health care industry to use the civil (‘balance of probabilities’) not the criminal (‘beyond a reasonable doubt’) burden of proof in their proceedings.