We talked about human rights and the elderly: we wondered whether some elderly residents of care homes were being deprived of their rights, not being given clean sheets, not being fed properly, and the like. We commented that there might be several reasons for this:
Sometimes it might just be lack of attention on the part of the nurses, not deliberate, and easily corrected when it is pointed out. For instance, one of us had seen some elderly residents in another home not eating; ‘fancy that’, the nurses said, ‘they never eat their meals’. Then it was noticed that they didn’t have use of their hands. After that, the situation was corrected.
Sometimes there might not be enough staff or time to look after all the elderly people. Could this be a case of the government depriving people of their rights by taking away the resources needed to care for them?
And sometimes it seems that some people are not treated as deserving rights, because they may have lost some mental faculties, or perhaps they are being maliciously neglected. But, we wondered, can anyone ever not actually be deserving of rights? Aren’t rights supposed to be something you can never lose.
To clarify this, we went back to an earth-shaking historical document. The American Declaration of Independence. We’ll have more to say about this later.