I speak to many people on the phone or email who are facing a situation where they are at odds with the health professionals about where their relative (who has serious memory problems) should live. Usually the person in question is in hospital on an unrelated health matter and it has been decided that to send them home would be an unwise decision. It is interesting to me that families rarely mention DoLS unless they have read about it on their research journey. Of course this may be because when DoLS are introduced the families are kept abreast of the process and reasons for, and consequently don’t feel the need to contact us.
It prompted me to do some research of my own and I discover that there are many caes involving people with dementia which are highlighted on a Blog called The Small Places which is written by a wonderfully articulate student at Cardiff University, Lucy Series. It seems that for many years the ways in which DoLS were implemented locally was something of a postcode lottery but a recent case – the Cheshire West Judgment – has sought to clarify the meaning of deprivation of liberty. To quote from Lucy’s article on the case –
“…the ‘acid test’ of deprivation of liberty was whether or not a person is subject to continuous or constant supervision and control, and is not free to leave the place where they live. A person is deprived of their liberty even if they do not object to their placement, and even if the restrictions they are subject to are in their best interests…”
She adds “Many people have welcomed the ruling in Cheshire West as it meas that more people will get rights to independent assessments, advocacy and tools to challenge the placements in the Court of Protection.” To be fair we often welcome apparent breakthroughs in the implemention of laws written to support our client group; whether any real impact is felt who knows. Sadly we will continue to hear from people who feel the Mental Capacity Act has not empowered them significantly enough.
If you have experienced the DoLS system or are concerned that someone you know has been deprived of their liberty without a proper assessment then do get in touch with us.