Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

New resources and films launched to clarify Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards for professionals

DOLsNew resources have been launched that aim to aid professionals when they are making deprivation of liberty decisions.

The resources – two films and an updated briefing – have been published by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and look at when there is a case for depriving people of their liberty; for instance, when someone lacks the capacity to consent to their care and treatment. The case for the decision is taken in order to keep them and others safe from harm.

The new resources have been created in the wake of a Supreme Court judgement in March 2014 on what constitutes a deprivation of liberty, whereby someone can legally have their liberty taken away.

The judgment has had big consequences for those people working in the area of mental capacity, and the number of deprivation of liberty applications has risen markedly since the judgement was made.

SCIE’s resources are aimed at care home managers, registered managers, care providers, hospital managers, social workers, best interest assessors and independent mental capacity advocates, along with people with care and support needs and their families.

The films show a panel of Mental Capacity Act experts discussing the implications of the judgment, and also how practice has changed in light of the ruling, by looking in detail at two case studies. Meanwhile, the briefing looks at how deprivation of liberty can be authorised under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. It also focuses on urgent authorisations, safeguards for people who may be deprived of their liberty, when Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards can’t be used, and when deprivation of liberty happens without authorisation.

SCIE says that each case must be considered on its own merits, but there are some common themes when looking at depriving people of their liberty, for instance, whether there’s a frequent use of sedation or medication to control behaviour, or whether physical restraint is used to control behaviour.

However, people with care and support needs have the same rights as everyone else under the Human Rights Act. People cannot be deprived of their liberty without it being authorised by a legal process.

SCIE’s chief executive, Tony Hunter, said: “It’s a sad fact that sometimes depriving someone of their liberty needs to be considered. Doing so should never be something that professionals do lightly – it’s a complex decision. The new films and the At a Glance Guide, all reflecting the important Supreme Court judgment, will be invaluable for staff working in the field. I love the bit where real-life case studies are discussed. There’s no simple answer to each dilemma that’s thrown up, but we must all strive to provide dignity and human rights, even if someone’s liberty is to be taken from them.”

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