No. 28 of #50cases.
Is a disabled person entitled to the same human rights protection as a non-disabled person? You may think that is a simple question with an obvious answer. Not so.
P was a man who was sent to live in a care home. He had cerebral palsy and Down’s Syndrome and needed 24-hour care, and his mother was no longer well enough to provide it. His local council, Cheshire West and Chester Council, removed him from his mother’s home and placed him into the care of social services. He was not free to leave the home.
P’s mother went to the Supreme Court arguing that her son was being deprived of his liberty. She called for protections to be put in place for P and other people in his position, so that their care regimes are regularly reviewed. The court ruled that P was “under continuous supervision and control and was not free to leave” and was therefore deprived of his liberty.
We are all entitled to our liberty and we are all entitled to challenge the authorities when it is taken away. Prisoners are entitled to parole hearings. Mental health patients are entitled to a regular review of whether they should be allowed to go home. So for disabled people, their living conditions must be regularly reviewed in the same way.
It may seem strange to describe vulnerable adults who are being well looked after as ‘birds trapped in a gilded cage’. But caged they may feel. Thanks to the Supreme Court in this case, all disabled adults in care are now entitled to the same dignity and status as the rest of us. This means regular reviews to ensure their best interests and needs are being taken into account.