DOLsThe government has decided not to scrap the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) despite a recent House of Lords report saying they should be abandoned.

In March, a House of Lords report heavily criticised the DoLS, saying they were “not fit for purpose”, and “overly bureaucratic and complex”, recommending that they were replaced.

The same report also criticised the Mental Capacity Act (MCA), saying it is failing to protect vulnerable people because social workers, healthcare professionals and others are not aware of it and are failing to implement it.

The DoLS aim to ensure people in care homes and hospitals are looked after in a way that does not inappropriately restrict their freedom. The safeguards should ensure that a care home or hospital only deprives someone of their liberty in a safe and correct way, and that this is only done when it is in the best interests of the person and there is no other way to look after them.

However, the government has responded by saying that, while it recognises the concerns outlined in the House of Lords’ report, it has decided against fundamental reform of the DoLS.

Further reading: Number of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards applications rises two-thirds in 4 years

In the response, the government said it will ask the Law Commission to consult on and potentially draft a new legislative framework that would allow for the authorisation of a best interests deprivation of liberty in supported living arrangements. “In light of this, the Law Commission will consider any improvements that might be made to the DoLS,” the response said.

Additionally, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services will lead a task group to consider the implications of the recent Supreme Court judgment on deprivation of liberty – P v Cheshire West and P&Q v Surrey – which councils are estimate that, as a result, will see a 10-fold increase in DoLS applications this year.

The Government will also commission a revision of the current standard forms that support the DoLS process.

Lack of awareness
Meanwhile, the government has said it will look to address the issue of the lack of awareness of the MCA by commissioning a review of current guidance and tools to determine what represents the “gold standard” that can then be widely disseminated.

Also, in 2015, the Government will host a national event to raise awareness of the MCA and to hear the views of professionals and the public as to how we can further develop our programme of work.

“The Government believes the MCA is an Act of fundamental importance which we are committed to embedding across our work programmes,” the government’s response said.

“We urge that all those with a role to play in implementing the MCA seize the opportunity provided by the House of Lords report and this Government response. If we maintain recent momentum and implement the programme of work we describe in this report we believe that we can create a culture that values every voice and respects every right of those who may lack capacity.”