They are safeguards introduced into law by the Mental Capacity Act designed to ensure that restrictions imposed on a person’s freedom of movement in a care home or hospital are necessary, proportionate and in that person’s best interests. Local Authorities are responsible for authorising deprivations of liberty under the DoLS scheme although in certain circumstances a hospital or care home can authorise a deprivation of liberty for a short period of time if this needs to be done urgently.
The terminology may sound draconian but the purpose of the DoLS scheme is to protect people’s freedom. If an incapacitated person is deprived of their liberty the safeguards are designed to ensure that the arrangements which deprive them of their liberty are in their best interests, are the least restrictive option for that person, and are reviewed regularly. The safeguards also give the person’s representative the right to challenge the arrangements if they don’t think that they are in the person’s best interests.
A recent judgment in the Supreme Court re-defined the term ‘deprivation of liberty’ and determined that where a person lacks capacity to consent their care arrangements and is:
they are deprived of their liberty.
This is a quite a wide definition and the case led to a recognition that the care arrangements of many more people now fall within definition of deprivation of liberty and should be authorised by an appropriate means.
If you are unsure about how this issue will affect you, or you are concerned that care arrangements are restrictive or not in a person’s best interests you should first contact your Local Authority (or the body caring for you / your family member/friend) and request additional information from them about the assessment process and decision being taken.
If you are the parent of a child approaching the age of 16 who is being cared for in circumstances which may be depriving them of their liberty you should be aware that the Court of Protection may need to approve future arrangements.
Hugh Jones Solicitors are experts in advising on issues of deprivation of liberty and can assist you with advice about these issues including how to challenge a decision should the need arise.
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Hugh Jones Solicitors have experts in in this complex field who can help you with advice and drafting of an LPA for Health and Care and documenting your Advance Decision Making.