A new law introduced by the government today is designed to streamline the complicated and bureaucratic Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLs) system.
The government said the new system will ease the burden on local authorities, saving an estimated £200m a year which will go towards frontline care and address the current backlog of 108,000 people whose safeguards have not been reviewed.
Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said: “Treating people with respect and dignity, no matter their disability or condition, is the touchstone of a civilised society. I want to ensure that the system works for everyone and ensures that individuals’ fundamental rights are protected while reassuring families their loved ones are getting good care.
“We know local authorities are under pressure which is why these reforms are so important: to reduce the burden on councils so they can focus their resources where they are needed on the frontline.”
A DoLs assessment is carried out on people who do not have the mental capacity to make their own decisions about their care. It is a safeguard to ensure people are only being deprived of their liberty when it is in their best interest to keep them safe and helps to ensure their independence and choice. Examples of deprivations of liberty include the use of restraint, the use of bed rails to prevent a patient getting out bed, restrictions on movement, a high degree of supervision or the lack of capacity to consent to altered terms of care. People who may require an assessment include people with dementia, a brain injury, learning difficulties or autism.
The bill is designed to ensure the system is less burdensome on people, carers, families and local authorities. It aims to introduce a simpler process with more engagement with families and swifter access to justice.
It also allows the NHS rather than local authorities to authorise patients and enable a more streamlined and clearly accountable process, while considering restriction of people’s liberties holistically as part of their overall care package.
The bill also aims to eliminate repeat assessment and authorisations when someone moves between a care home, hospital and ambulance as part of their treatment.