Deprivation of Liberty Explained
In the Huddersfield Examiner recently, a disturbing case was reported where “little known Deprivation of Liberty (DoL) legislation” was used. Kirklees Council and South West Yorkshire NHS Foundation Trust used their powers to split up an elderly couple and take them into different care homes, with the views of their son not being heard.
The Deprivation of Liberty safeguards (DOLS) appear to be a draconian measure taken by health care trusts and local authorities as they can be used to take someone into a care home or hospital against their wishes. They can also be used to put other restrictions on people, such as controlling who they can see and where they go. They can be extremely distressing particularly when husbands and wives are torn apart and are only allowed to see each other for a limited time.
It must be borne in mind when using such ‘safeguards’ there are certain criteria which must be met. For the safeguards to be applied to someone, that person should have been shown not to have the mental capacity to make decisions in relation to the reason why the safeguards were applied.
Also, people who are caring for the person should be consulted. Unfortunately, family members often feel excluded from the process when they shouldn’t be.
If it is felt that the decisions taken are not in the best interests of the person then legal action can be taken to challenge the local authority’s / health trust’s actions.
Rebecca Chapman of Ridley and Hall Solicitors said:
“It is worrying that at a difficult time in a vulnerable person’s life, those closest to them and who know them best are not listened to and excluded when the State is making decisions on their behalf. This situation can speedily breakdown any working relationship between family members and the local authority / NHS, often making the situation worse for the vulnerable person.
If the protocols were followed correctly and family members’ views were taken into account then it would help to reduce the stress faced by the family and vulnerable person at such a time.”