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Half of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards cases breaching legal timescales

User AvatarPosted by Kathryn Platten at 08/10/2014 09:52:35
Community Care - 1 October 2014

Half of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards cases breaching legal timescales

Experts welcome Supreme Court ruling's extension of human rights protections but warn resources are badly needed to meet surge in demand

Half of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (Dols) cases are breaching legal timescales for completion after a landmark Supreme Court ruling in March triggered a nine-fold rise in monthly referrals to councils, a Community Care investigation has found.

Social workers welcomed the ruling’s extension of human rights protections but said resources are urgently needed to help frontline teams cope with the flood of cases coming in.

Under the Dols, local authorities must assess whether people who lack capacity to consent to their care arrangements are being deprived of their liberty in care homes or hospitals and, if so, whether this is in their best interests and necessary to protect them from harm. The Dols are designed to provide independent scrutiny, by social workers and health professionals, of these care arrangements.

Prior to the Supreme Court ruling (see box), and under previous case law, the safeguards were often not applied if the restrictions on a person’s liberty were viewed as normal for someone with that level of disability, or if the person or their family did not raise objections. But the ruling rendered these factors irrelevant, and effectively lowered the threshold for cases requiring assessment. In doing so, it extended important human rights protections to a broader group of vulnerable people and, as a result, triggered a surge in referrals for Dols assessments.

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