The Government has been urged to collaborate with the care sector on mental capacity law reforms reaching a key stage in the legislation process this week.
The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill, which is due to reach its next committee stage in the House of Lords today, seeks to replace the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS).
Groups representing service users fear the changes will dilute human rights safeguards for the most vulnerable, including older and disabled people, who often lack the capacity to speak for themselves.
Judy Downey, chair of the Relative and Residents Association, said the changes required care home managers to be “judge and jury”, leaving people effectively imprisoned in care homes.
“This worrying change loses the crucial independent element provided by a professional who has duty to find out the wishes of the person concerned to provide the least restrictive option,” she said.
“The Relatives & Residents Association regularly has examples from our Helpline of serious conflicts of interest when vulnerable older people have been deprived of their liberty and where both residents’ and relatives’ view have been dismissed or ignored.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill will introduce a new system to increase the protection of some of the most vulnerable people in society. This will reduce the number of people waiting for authorisations by simplifying the process and making it less cumbersome for people.”
“Care homes will not be deciding authorisations – the bill ensures that authorisations for people to be deprived of their liberty in care homes are determined by responsible bodies such as local authorities or CCGs, who will carefully scrutinise applications made.”