Human Rights

Monday 17th November 2014


Human rights “are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination”.

Those are the fine and inspiring words of Eleanor Roosevelt, an architect of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights all those years ago.  It was this quote that I used to start my speech on human rights in Parliament last week.

While there can be no doubting there has been huge progress since these famous words were uttered, progress for some groups in society has been slower than others. One such group is people with dementia.

Despite warm words from the Scottish Government on improving care for people with dementia in hospital, time and again we hear reports that their rights are not being respected, the most prominent of which, are the right to be treated with dignity and respect, and the right to treated as a unique individual who receives personalised care.

A recent inspection report of the Victoria Infirmary Hospital in Glasgow found patients not being dressed in their own clothes; incontinence aids and cleansing foam kept in full view at the end of a patient’s bed; and a large number of patients sitting in a small lounge area or the dining area for long periods with very little stimulation or interactions with staff.

Eleanor Roosevelt also said that “without concerted citizen action to uphold human rights close to home, we shall look at vain for progress in the larger world”. The time for words is over, the Scottish Government must act to ensure human rights belong to everyone.