The abuses reported nationally against people with learning disabilities, older adults, mental health difficulties and service users in general hospitals have highlighted that there is a vacuum of values in some health and social care settings.

We cannot allow these examples of abuse to continue. The culture of services and the attitudes, values and behaviours of some staff need to change.

Human Rights and the PANEL principles are a way we can reduce the chances of these abuses occurring within Mersey Care and can be the framework which can help facilitate our goal of aspiring to deliver perfect care.   

The PANEL principles are:

P Enabling meaningful Participation of all key people and stakeholders.

A Ensuring clear Accountability, identifying who has legal duties and practical  responsibility for human rights approaches.

N Non-discrimination: discrimination avoided, attention paid to groups made  vulnerable.

E Empowermentof staff and service users with knowledge, skills and commitment to realising human rights.

L Expressly apply human rights Laws, particularly the Human Rights Act.

Over the last ten years Mersey Care has worked in partnership with the British Institute of Human Rights to embed human rights based approaches and subsequently the PANEL principles in a range of initiatives and services. These principles are integral to our perfect care agenda.

Human rights are the legal backbone and the bedrock to our Trust’s strategic vision over the next five years of delivering perfect care. This is also informing our transformation agenda so that we will develop services which embrace and work to the PANEL principles to achieve perfect care.  

Ipsos Mori stated that: “Mersey Care continues to be a leader in implementing a human rights based approach within healthcare and the evaluations that it has carried out in this phase of the pilot begin to build a picture of the ways in which the success of a human rights based approach can be measured”.

We are beginning to see the impact of human rights based approaches in healthcare at both a national and a local level. Mersey Care is developing a firm evidence base through our research and innovation and we are attracting funding to develop our resources and expertise further. We have recently developed a range of resources, funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the British Institute for Human Rights.

These resources include:

  • Getting it right toolkit
  • Rights at risk staff manual
  • Rights at risk for service users
  • Enquiry Based Learning slides and manual

So whether your focus is the micro-level of adapting routine clinical tools or macro-level changes in team processes, accessing mainstream services, making processes more accessible to people or affecting management practices, and service user representation, a human rights based approach can illuminate current practice and lead to effective change, in partnership with the people we serve. It embeds good practice and values.

Using this approach, the person is central and their rights are paramount. All aspects of professionals and service delivery in healthcare should start with this as a fundamental principle of why and how you work with people who use our services.

This should be the starting point of all service user journeys and should not be the end point as recommendations following an enquiry.