“The spread of COVID-19 in seven age care facilities in Christchurch, Waikato and Auckland will be of deep concern to those who have loved ones in residential care,” said Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt.
“Every life has value and everyone, without discrimination, is entitled to the same protections and freedoms including the right to be as healthy and safe as possible. Lives should not be placed at risk.
“It is essential that people have the information they need to be sure all possible steps are being taken to avoid the introduction and spread of COVID-19 to at risk population groups, such as older people and disabled people.
“There needs to be a high level of transparency and accountability from care providers and people who operate residential facilities,” Mr Hunt said.
The commission has prepared the following questions for whānau and friends to ask of the residential facilities where loved ones are living.
1. What cleaning, hygiene or other processes are in place to keep my friend or family member safe from COVID-19?
2. What are you doing to protect your staff, to keep them safe and to make sure they do not place others in your facility at risk of COVID-19?
3. If someone in your facility was diagnosed with COVID-19 what would you do to care for them and for others in your facility?
4. How can my family member communicate with whānau and friends during the lockdown?
“In these difficult times it’s vital we remain vigilant for potential human rights abuses and ensure human rights standards are complied with. This is particularly important for people who are older, unwell or otherwise at risk,” Mr Hunt said.
If people have any concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on their human rights they are encouraged to contact the commission on 0800 496 877 or [email protected].
The Human Rights Commission is responding to COVID-19 in three ways:
• Advisory: Actively involved in forums and bi-lateral discussions with government agencies to ensure that Te Tiriti and human rights are at the forefront of decision making and the impacts on people at-risk and most marginalised are being taken into when decisions are made.
• Community: Connecting with iwi and our most marginalised communities that are impacted so, if necessary, we can add our voice to their concerns.
• Accountability: Ensuring that the decisions made, and their implementation, adhere to core human rights and Te Tiriti and are proportionate, necessary and legal.