The right of elderly persons to social security
Article 23 tackles age discrimination outside employment in different areas, namely access to goods, facilities and services, healthcare, education, insurance and banking, participation in policy making/civil dialogue, allocation of resources and facilities. The Committee considers that an adequate legal framework is fundamental to combat such discrimination.
Article 23 also requires States Parties to take appropriate measures against elder abuse. These measures may be legislative or otherwise and should allow States to evaluate the extent of the problem and to raise awareness on the need to eradicate elder abuse and neglect.
Under Article 23, pensions and other state benefits must be sufficient to allow elderly persons to lead a ‘decent life’ and play an active part in public, social and cultural life. Furthermore, States must provide information about the services and facilities themselves available for elderly persons such as: home-help services, day centres, housing services, cultural, educational and leisure activities.
The needs of elderly persons must be addressed in national or local housing policies, backed by law. The supply of adequate housing for them must be sufficient and adequate.
As for healthcare, Article 23 requires that healthcare programmes and services (notably primary care including domiciliary nursing or care) specifically designed for the elderly must exist alongside guidelines thereon. In addition, there should be mental health programmes to tackle psychological problems of the elderly.
The rights of elderly persons living in institutions must also be guaranteed: the right to appropriate care and adequate services, the right to privacy, the right to personal dignity, the right to participate in decisions concerning the living conditions in the institution, the protection of property, the right to maintain personal contact with persons close to the elderly person and the right to complain about treatment and care in institutions. There should be a sufficient supply of institutional facilities for elderly persons (public or private), they should be affordable, and assistance must be available to cover the cost.
For more on Article 23 of the Charter and its interpretation by the European Committee of Social Rights, see the Digest of the case law.