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What should I do if I think someone is being deprived of their liberty?

View profile for Megan Taylor
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Healthwatch releases report of findings following two year analysis of home care services in England

If you think that someone is being deprived of their liberty, you should talk to the people in charge of their care. In a care or nursing home, this would be the home manager, and in a hospital, this may be a doctor or nurse (often referred to as the ‘managing authority’).

You should seek to ascertain what restrictions are imposed on the person and whether an urgent or standard authorisation is in place, often referred to as a ‘DOLS form 1’ (urgent authorisation) and ‘DOLS form 5’ (standard authorisation). These are documents which lawfully deprive a person of their liberty, and in return offer the person numerous safeguards.

If there is not a DOLS authorisation in place, but you think that the person is being deprived of their liberty, you should ask the managing authority to refer the person to the local authority to which the person currently resides (often referred to as the ‘supervisory body’) and request a DOLS assessment. The supervisory body should complete a DOLS assessment where it is felt that the persons residence and care arrangements will be, or are, depriving them of their liberty. 

The process to authorise the deprivation of a person’s liberty is different if the person is living in the community, for example in their own home or supported living accommodation. The local authority must make an application to the Court of Protection to request that the persons care arrangements, which amount to a deprivation of their liberty, are authorised by the court (often referred to as a ‘DOL’). The court can authorise the deprivation of a person’s liberty in the community for a maximum period of 12 months.

We are experienced in representing vulnerable adults and family members and providing advice and assistance in respect of the above issues. Should you require any advice or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us on  01616 966 229 and our team of specialist mental capacity and Court of Protection solicitors may be able to assist.