The journey thus far – blog from Verity Monaghan

The Journey Thus Far

The last two months have been a tumultuous time due to the outbreak of COVID-19 which has sent shock waves through the world and has had devastating effects on families and services and restricted the lives of many . However, on a more positive note it has also been a time for deep reflection and re-connection of what is truly important and to look at how we can be more creative in our approach to meet our human rights and needs.

Moreover, for those who do not know, this is my final week before I go off on maternity leave and so it feels like the right time to reflect on the fantastic progress of the Rights Made Real project during phase one of the programme and take a look at what the future of the project holds. Lastly I felt that this was a prime opportunity to look at human rights in light of the current climate and how the projects have used what they have learned during this project to not only maintain the safety of themselves and residents but also how they have used their skills, learning and knowledge in a creative way and continue to make rights real in spite of the ongoing crisis.

Phase one – making rights real

The first phase of the Rights Made Real in Care Homes Programme was funded in 2018 for 2 years and is due to finish at the end of July 2020. Moving forward, I am delighted to announce that there will be a phase two extension to the innovative rights-based work that has been happening to improve the lives of those with dementia living in a care home setting. Further information will be released soon about what this will look like in the coming months – so keep your eyes peeled.

The aim of the project overall, has been to demonstrate and embed a rights-based approach to dementia care and each of the seven groups of care homes have taken unique and innovative approaches in how they have achieved this. You can find more information on what each of the projects were involved in here.

There has been an abundance of learning as a result of the project so far. Tamsin MacBride from UWS has been pivotal in the role of collecting, connecting and evaluating this learning from the different care home sites using My Home Life, appreciative inquiry and action learning approaches. This learning was compounded in the “Away Days” in October where we brought the projects together for two days of reflection and future forming workshops and key speakers involved in human rights in the health and social care sector. This time of reflection has been invaluable in maintaining the momentum, readjusting the focus of the projects and reinvigorating the motivation to look at human rights in new ways.

One of the key quotes from those Away Days was the realisation that,

“Many paths can lead to the same destination.”

Some of the other general learning from the Away Days was around:

  • developing confidence around using human rights language
  • communication with staff and residents around what is important to them and how to meet needs in a rights based way.
  • addressing fears when it comes to human rights
  • translating human rights into practice and how to take the next step of moving from rights aware practice to rights based practice.

Phase two and human rights resource – a journey of discovery

Phase two of the project will seek to consolidate the learning from phase one and explore how this can be used to influence other care homes across Scotland. As the project comes to the end of phase one, there is a strong sense that the care homes have more they would like to learn. Phase two will go deeper than being rights aware to embed rights based approaches into practice.

So with that in mind, my role when working with the projects in 2020 has been to co-create a human rights resource with the projects to document the journey of discovery of the learning throughout the different organisations. There has been a clear transfer of learning throughout individual organisations, so we felt it was beneficial to share the journey in order to showcase how human rights are met through different tools and approaches. This resource will be available in the early Summer so please look out for more information on this.


Human rights – what do they look like in the face of a global pandemic?

From the beginning of 2020 as a result of the global pandemic, the world’s citizens have had their human rights inside and outside their home restricted and limited on many levels in order to protect public health and care homes are no exception. This project has highlighted how important and intrinsic the enjoyment of our human rights are in our everyday interactions and lives and this global pandemic is an example of how our fundamental human rights can be restricted in order to protect public health. It is useful to be able to understand what our human rights are and the principles of human rights so that decisions are being made proportionately, necessarily, and legally to protect people.

There have been many effects of restrictions specifically, with regards to social distancing for those with dementia in a care home. This has meant that a restriction to Article 5: The right to liberty has been applied. This can have a detrimental effect on someone with dementia who may not understand why they are not allowed to travel outside or to meet up with family or other residents and it is imperative that all decisions should be made to ensure the least restrictive option. Scottish Care CEO Donald has written a thorough and thought provoking article on the ethical choices that are having to be made as a result of COVID-19 –

All of Article 8 which is around the Right to private, family life and correspondence have been affected. This includes psychological integrity (mental and physical well-being), the development of ordinary family relationships and the enjoyment of current home all of which are affected through social distancing and the measures that the government have put into place. These restrictions have been especially difficult to navigate for those at the end of their life and those who have had to make the decision to attend hospital for life saving treatment.

However, as daunting as these measures sound, there are many examples of health and social care organisations taking steps to ensure the least restrictive option in a creative manner. This includes family visits from outside the care home and using Skype and FaceTime to connect with loved ones. Also, there has been an uptake of social activities electronically and connecting via technology. Scottish Care has also set up a technology device network where organisations and individuals can donate devices so that residents can maintain connection with their loved ones –

It has been so encouraging to hear from the project leads that their time involved in the project has prepared them with the skills, knowledge and tools to be able to navigate this crisis using human rights, including buiding confidence in:

  • Balancing safety with maintaining connections with family and friends – using social media and technology to connect families when they cannot be together physically.
  • End of life care – ensuring the maintaining of connections at the end of a resident’s life.
  • Being able to challenge decisions that are not felt to be proportionate.
  • Harnessing creativity with regards to activities within the care homes.
  • Connecting with the local community – care homes are being supported by local community businesses through the supply of local produce, food, ice cream, milk etc.
  • Intergenerational work has continued with nursery age children sending in encouraging drawings to connect with residents.


My time in this role has sadly temporarily come to an end and therefore I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the projects for their ongoing dedication and commitment to improving the lives of those they support and for their incredible attitude even in the face of a global pandemic. Last but not least my colleagues at Scottish Care, who have been the continuous voice of the independent social care sector and have been very supportive throughout my time as policy and human rights worker in supporting the vision to make rights real for those in care homes.


Stay safe and stay tuned for more updates soon,


Verity Monaghan

Policy and Human Rights Project Worker



Last Updated on 24th April 2020 by Becca