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Record number of Dols bids made


A record number of requests have been made by hospitals and care homes to deprive people of their liberty, figures show.

There were 11,890 Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (Dols) requests made in England during 2012-13 - a 66% rise on three years ago.

A Health and Social Care Information Centre report, published today, said there has been a year-on-year increase in the number of applications completed since the introduction of Dols in 2009-10.

Councils and local health authorities can approve placing restraints or restrictions on people who are deemed to lack the mental capacity to consent to their care or treatment. They include those with dementia or a learning disability.

Methods of deprivation include using physical restraint, forcibly giving them medication and preventing them from seeing relatives and friends.

The report showed that just over half of the applications (55%) were granted.

Dementia was recorded as the primary disability in 54% of the applications.

Dols aim to make sure that people in care homes and hospitals are looked after in a way that does not inappropriately restrict their freedom.

They should ensure that a care home or hospital only deprives someone of their liberty in a safe way, and when there is no other way to look after them.

If a person is to be deprived of liberty, a care home must follow a strict process. This includes providing the person with a representative, giving the person or representative the right to challenge the order through the Court of Protection and a regular review of the situation.

Last week MPs warned that Dols are often used incorrectly.

In a report on the Mental Health Act 2007, the Commons’ health select committee said: “There is considerable confusion around the scope of the safeguards and how and when to apply them in practice.

“The evidence the committee heard regarding the application of Dols revealed a profoundly depressing and complacent approach to the matter.

“There is extreme variation in their use and we are concerned that some of the most vulnerable members of society may be exposed to abuse because the legislation has failed to implement controls to properly protect them.”

The MPs called for an urgent review of the system.

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Readers' comments (4)

  • tinkerbell

    sadly once you enter most residential homes (if you have dementia) you will have about as much wiggle room as a free range hen. If you want to go out spontaneously, due to staff shortages, in the private sector as well as NHS, you will probably have to wait until there is some organised outing, if at all. Only those lucky enough to have caring, regularly visiting family will get to see a blue sky again or some fresh air up their nostrils.

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  • I think that there is a real misunderstanding of the value of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. They ensure that someone who is in a situation that might amount to a deprivation gets a thorough assessment, that the situation is properly assessed to see if there is a less restrictive option for their care, that their current situation is in their best interest and it makes sure that their situation is reassessed to see if anything has changed. It also gives families and representatives a legal framework to appeal the process through the courts. An increase in applications is not a bad thing.
    It is those people that are slipping through the net and are not being assessed that are the ones that we should be worrying about.

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  • sounds like another LCP story.

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  • despicable. this is fellow human beings we are talking about! who has capacity to pronounce judgement over the rights and liberty of another?

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