The event was an opportunity for NIHR ARC South London postdoctoral research Caroline Emmer De Albuquerque Green and her team of artists and public contributors to hear a wide range of voices on the topic of human rights and social care, while the 50 guests were dancing, debating, reciting poetry and enjoying tea and home-made cakes.

It was the second part of a larger involvement project on the same research question, which included a series of online workshops.

This tea dance brought together a truly diverse group of older south Londoners many of whom have been caregivers and/or users of social care services and are often difficult for researchers to reach, especially with Covid. The music, catering and moderation helped to make it a memorable event for everyone with some fascinating insights into why people think social care is a matter of fundamental human rights

Caroline Green

Dr Caroline Emmer De Albuquerque Green, research associate, King's College London

This [event] made me feel fantastic. We rarely meet and it was a lovely afternoon for us.

Sandra, a tea dance guest

We have had many people call or text after the event and tell us how much they enjoyed it and asking when the next tea dance will be

Tina Aranda, Stanstead Lodge Seniors Club

The event was moderated by theatre artist Christopher Green and a debate was opened by Dudley Sawyerr, Inclusion, Diversity, Equality and Wellbeing Lead for Social Care and NHS in south-east London. Individual guests came forward to share their opinion on the need for a human right to social care with other guests. 

Caroline and Rachel Barber, a public contributor and social care training provider, captured voices individually. Opinions and feedback from the service users and carers who attended included:

Social care service user: "We get messed around by the system and no-one hears our voices. We need a human right to social care because this would put into law that we have a right to access social care services and that government has to listen to us"

I have been fighting for my sister with a learning disability to access education, an important part of social care for her. I won't give up but it is hard. If social care was a human right, this would help us advocate for her with the local authority.

Young carer

The opinions will inform the development of a research grant proposal and the production of a short advocacy video aimed at policymakers within the framework of the United Nations process on a new UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons. 

Find out more

Caroline and Rachel have shared some of their learning on effectively involving people at different stages of research with the NIHR ARC South London Involvement Network.