Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and the Mental Capacity Act

If you’ve been following the news, you’ll have heard about the recent House of Lords Ruling about DOLS (Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards) and the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA). You can read more about the committee, report and recommendations here.

The House of Lords appointed a select committee in 2013 and received the report in February 2014. The committee recommended that the Government should scrap DOLS and replace it with a new framework that better protects the rights of vulnerable adults in care settings.

The committee found the current DOLS operation was leading to thousands of people who were unable to consent to care arrangements being unlawfully deprived of their liberty. The safeguards are supposed to protect individuals against this kind of deprivation – but were failing to do so.

‘Poorly drafted and poorly implemented

“The provisions are poorly drafted, overly complex and bear no relationship to the language and ethos of the Mental Capacity Act,” said the committee’s report. “The safeguards are not well understood and are poorly implemented. Evidence suggested that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of individuals, are being deprived of their liberty without the protection of the law, and therefore without the safeguards which Parliament intended.”

Since the report was published, there has been a huge increase in court applications and many residential care homes are getting visits from DOLS assessors to find out if people’s liberty is being restricted in any way.

At Liaise, we’ve obviously been following this closely and Glebelands had its own visit from a DOLS assessor in June.

We are proud to report that the assessor said he was very impressed by the level of behaviour analysis and support we deliver and would let the relevant authority know that.

At Liaise, we provide the least restrictive environment possible while keeping the people we support safe, so we were delighted to see this ‘balancing act’ recognised and praised because our staff work very hard to achieve it.

How we achieve our ‘balancing act’

This seems like a good place to tell you a little about how we achieve our ‘balancing act’. We run specialist worker training bi-monthly/eight-weekly. This is ongoing training to ensure our colleagues continue to develop themselves and the people we support.

This month, we continued to focus on service-user learning objectives. These are the short-term goals the people we support work on to develop life skills and coping strategies.

These objectives help to bring the person closer to achieving a lifestyle of their choosing and reaching their long-term aims. Learning new skills and building on existing strengths is a key part of reducing challenging behaviours and improving life experiences. The skills they learn and develop help to ensure they live their lives as freely – and as safely – as possible.

Progress at Head Office

At our head office, the specialist workers each gave a presentation analysing the many elements they must consider in ensuring the people they support have the best chance of learning. This means assessing, planning, implementing, monitoring, reviewing and measuring progress.

Our colleagues demonstrated that most progress is made when service users and support staff are all involved in deciding what to work on. The people we support do best when there is lots of discussion to review how things are going.

This is a vital part of our work to ensure the people we support live lives that are as fulfilling, rich, safe and free as possible.