DoLS reforms depend on the support managers receive

“Without the right training and resources for care home managers, the most vulnerable in our society will continue to have their rights restricted and not receive the appropriate care,” Liberal Democrat spokesperson for health  Baroness Jolly  has said.

Speaking as new Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) make their way through Parliament, she said that a backlog of DoLS assessments means there are over 100,000 people who may be having their liberty unlawfully restricted. She says that the backlog has been caused by “hundreds of care home managers and Mental Capacity Act (MCA) practitioners whose workloads are overwhelmed by process”. The result is that  “thousands of family members [are] struggling to get the best care for their loved ones.”

A key part of the DoLS 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. Baroness Jolly says: “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.”

DoLS reforms are the main focus of the Mental Capacity Act Amendment Bill, which had its second reading in the House of Lords in July. The bill will next be debated in September. Follow its progress online.  The changes aim to make sure that people in settings including care homes who can’t consent to their care arrangements, do not have their freedoms unlawfully restricted. 

Commenting on the amendment Bill, Baroness Jolly said: “I am pleased to see support for these new safeguards building. The process is overly bureaucratic and lacks the clarity over how DoLS should be implemented and who is responsible for their implementation. 

“Whilst the bill has many positive features, the current crisis in the social care system will restrict how successfully the bill can be implemented. A fully funded and integrated health and social care system needs to be guaranteed to ensure the success of the bill. “

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