People who lack capacity in hospitals and care homes are now protected by the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards introduced as an amendment to the Mental Capacity Act 2005. A care home or hospital (known as a 'Managing Authority') must apply for permission to the local authority (known as a 'Supervisory Body') if they need to deprive someone of their liberty for their own safety or well-being.
The DoLS apply to people who are 18 years of age or over in hospitals and care homes who meet all of the following criteria. The person concerned (known as a 'relevant person') must:
A large number of these people will be those with significant learning disabilities, or older people who have dementia or some similar disability, but they can also include those who have certain other neurological conditions (for example as a result of a brain injury).
The safeguards only make it lawful for a person to be deprived of their liberty, based on a rigorous, standardised assessment and authorisation process. It gives people the right to challenge any decision to deprive them of liberty, a representative to act for them and protect their interests and the right to have their status reviewed and monitored on a regular basis.
If a hospital or care home feels that they need to deprive someone of their liberty to keep them safe from harm, they must apply for permission to the relevant 'Supervisory Body' (in Coventry this is Coventry City Council). This triggers a series of six assessments carried out by trained assessors.
The following will be assessed:
Only if all these criteria are met will an authorisation be granted. At any stage, the person or their representative will be able to appeal against their deprivation of liberty to the Court of Protection. In an emergency, the hospital or care home can issue an urgent authorisation, for seven days, which speeds up the normal process of authorisation.