New human rights charter for hi-tech care

Document sets out standards on practical and ethical issues surrounding the use of technology in social care

Friday 23rd August 2019

A new human rights charter setting out how technology should be used in caring for vulnerable people says humans must not be ‘wholly replaced’ by hi-tech advances.

The document – which is the first of its kind - sets out standards on practical and ethical issues surrounding the use of innovations such as sensor devices and ‘care-bots’ for the elderly

It is being launched at an event today at Strathclyde university, Glasgow, which is looking at technology and digital developments and how they can be used to improve older people’s care and support.

The Care Tech 2 conference, being hosted by Scottish Care, is bringing together more than 150 people, including designers, developers and those using and working in social care services, to discuss hi-tech and cutting-edge innovations.

Dr Donald Macaskill, CEO of Scottish Care, which represents independent health & social care providers, said the event aimed to recognise a “dynamic and fast-changing world”, in which technology is set to bring benefits for the care of older people.

He said: “But the day will also reflect on some of the dangers and limitations of technology, and how we need to develop a human rights and ethical framework for the use of this amazing technology.

“We are delighted to be able to launch the new human rights Charter for Technology and Digital in Social Care.”

The charter sets out a range of statements which everyone from designers and developers to service providers and staff can sign up to.

It states, for example, the use of technology and digital in social care ‘must be to the benefit of the individual and the common good’ and should only restrict individual choice to a degree which is ‘proportionate and rights-abiding’.

It also says any innovations should ‘enable and augment human presence’, rather than wholly replace it.

Dr Macaskill said there was opportunity for Scotland to be at the forefront of the debate around the role of ethics and human rights of technology.

He said: “We hope that over the next few weeks and months designers and developers, policy makers and politicians, providers and frontline workers as well as those who use social care supports, will sign up to the charter.

“The future of care in Scotland has to be one which is based on the rights, dignity, privacy and control of individual citizens.

“The charter is a positive contribution to achieving the rights-based care and support our citizens deserve.”