LibLink: Judith Jolly We must put the best interests of patients first and end the crisis in social care

100,000 people may be having their liberty unlawfully restricted,. That’s a big claim made by Lib Dem Health and Social Care spokesperson Judith Jolly in an article for Politics Home.

She writes about how cross party support is building for amendments to the Mental Capacity Act Amendment Bill aim to ensure that any Deprivation of Liberty Standards are implemented by trained individuals and only after a face to face assessment. It’s scary to think that that doesn’t happen as a matter of course.

I am pleased to see support for these new safeguards building. Indeed, there has been much criticism of the current DoLS system across parliament. The Joint Committee on Human Rights has said the system is broken and urgent action is needed to fix it. The process is overly bureaucratic and lacks the clarity over how DoLS should be implemented and who is responsible for their implementation.

The backlog of DoLS assessments means there are over 100,000 people who may be having their liberty unlawfully restricted, hundreds of care home managers and Mental Capacity Act (MCA) practitioners whose workloads are overwhelmed by process, and thousands of family members struggling to get the best care for their loved ones.

A key part of the reforms gives major responsibilities to care home managers. However, there are currently no provisions in place for how care home managers will manage this new responsibility or deal with any conflict of interests. What the amendments need to ensure is a focus on the resources and training that are necessary to implement a DoLS assessment and to ensure patients’ best interests are met.

Older people with dementia who are going through a DoLS assessment are particularly vulnerable. The nature of the illness means that an assessment by someone with limited training or time can mean the wrong care plan is implemented and an individual’s freedom is restricted. For a DoLS assessment to be in the best interests of the patient, there needs to be a face to face assessment by a fully trained and approved practitioner. This person-centred care planning will be in the best interests of the individual and will ease the burden on care home managers who already have multiple and complex caring responsibilities.

You can read the whole article here. 

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3 Comments

  • Ruth Bright 15th Aug '18 - 1:52pm

    Excellent work. Please also spare a thought for conscientious care home staff who might want to do the right thing but put their livelihoods in danger if they (as per the legislation) stand up for care home residents’ rights to make the “wrong” choices about their own care.

  • Matt (Bristol) 15th Aug '18 - 2:06pm

    Hear, hear! Both this article and what Ruth said.

    I agree that DoLS as currently conceived is cumbersome and expensive and killing local authorities.

    But there is not a right to put your mother or father in a home against their wishes without due process, and we need a process to secure their right to meet their needs in the way of their choosing, even if they need support to do so, free from undue constraint by either professionals, family members or commercial providers, unless they are seriously unwell.

    Giving care home providers a license to print money, via the power to assess wheter or not someone is a) at serious risk without their intervention and b) unable to resist or deny that intervention, is a return to the working model of the private Victorian asylum.

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