The purpose of this paper is to give a brief background to the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), and studies which factors Best Interests Assessors consider when making a judgement on Deprivation of Liberty. It examines some of the reasons why professionals may be under-using DoLS, including lack of knowledge, complex processes and paperwork, and the pejorative nature of the word “deprivation”, and looks at a possible way forward.
The paper looks at the evidence to the House of Commons and House of Lords Committees on the Mental Health Act and Mental Capacity Act, as well as previous and current research papers. It examines the nuances of difference between restriction and deprivation, and the cumulative impact of several restrictions, which may, in fact, amount to a deprivation, illustrated by case studies from the author's own practice.
It makes the case that health and social care professionals should err on the side of caution, by making precautionary DoLS applications, arguing that MCA DoLS is a forerunner of good practice, and that good care planning allied to judicious application of the MCA leads to better, more robust and more defensible decision making.
And it points the way to a possible future, citing the recommendations of the Select Committee on the MCA for a clearer link between DoLS and the principles underpinning the MCA, and for simplifying and clarifying the legislative provisions and the associated paperwork.
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