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LPS delay is a “time for reflection”

By freelance social care writer Eleanore Robinson
In spring the Department for Health and Social Care announced that the Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) would not be implemented until the next Parliament at the very earliest.

Replacing the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) process, LPS is intended to streamline the process and bring 16–17-year-olds, who are currently subject to Court of Protection rulings, into the framework.

The delay means that DoLS continue to apply to anyone aged 18 and over who lacks capacity to consent to the arrangements for their care and treatment and who is cared for in circumstances which deprive them of their liberty.

Sheree Green, director of Greenchurch Legal Services, explained: “The intention had been that LPS would provide a more streamlined way of protecting the individual’s rights than the complex, longwinded and bureaucratic DoLS, which requires local authorities to supervise the process for all care homes and hospitals.”

Green added that since the Supreme Court ruled in 2014 ruled that the human rights of disabled people should be protected to the same extent as the population at large, local authorities have been overwhelmed with referrals.

As a result, the average length of time to complete a DoLS standard authorisation was approximately five to six months in 2021-22, said Hannah Taylor, partner, health & care regulatory for law firm Bevan Brittan. She added: “Until recently, a Re X streamline application would be with the Court for between six and 12 months before authorisation.”

Time for reflection
While the LPS provisions have been broadly welcomed, many stakeholders see the delay as an opportunity to iron out some potential wrinkles in the new system.  

Greenchurch’s Green points out that the LPS provisions need to ensure that they define ‘deprivation of liberty’ in line with the acid test set by the High Court in 2014.

She said: “We would also like to see a time limit on proposed emergency powers to detain people.”

Homecare provider Upward Care also hopes that arrangements can be made to renew capacity assessments every 12 months. This would avoid having to chase up DoLS for each service user.

Andy Dennehy, training and development manager and safeguarding lead at the provider, said: “That would be our biggest hope for a change. The amount of time we spend chasing DoLS is excessive.”

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