Hospitals and care homes are making use of new measures designed to protect people unable to consent to their care or treatment, says a report recently published by the NHS.
The Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (MCA DoLS), which came into force on 1 April 2009, provides a legal framework to prevent the unlawful deprivation of a person's liberty occurring and were introduced into the Mental Capacity Act 2005 through the use of the Mental Health Act 2007. The arrangements protect people who are vulnerable to abuse and poor care whilst residing in a hospital or care home (across statutory, independent and voluntary sectors) through the use of a standardised assessment and authorisation process. They protect those who lack capacity to consent to arrangements made for their care and/or treatment but who need to be deprived of their liberty for their own best interests to protect them from harm. They also offer the person concerned the right to challenge any decision to deprive them of liberty, a representative to act for them and protect their interests and the right to have their status reviewed and monitored on a regular basis.
A standard authorisation for a person to be deprived of their liberty requires an application within the legislation. The process applies to people aged 18 and above who suffer from a mental disorder of the mind (such as dementia or a profound learning disability) and who lack capacity to give consent to the arrangements made for their care and / or treatment. The safeguards cover people in hospitals and care homes registered under the Care Standards Act 2000.
The report includes information about the number and types of authorisations to legally detain a person in a hospital or care home under the new system as well as information about the characteristics of the people on whose behalf authorisation requests were made.
The report includes regional breakdown of the figures. Among its findings, it shows:
- The number of completed assessments under the new arrangements (ie requests to deprive someone of their liberty) was: - 1772 in quarter 1, - 1,681 in quarter 2, and - 1,869 in quarter 3.
- For each quarter, around three out of four completed assessments were by local authorities while the remaining ones were by primary care trusts.
- The percentage of assessments resulting in authorisations being granted varied over the three quarters between 33.5 per cent in quarter 1 and 50.7 per cent in quarter 3.
- Of the total completed assessments in each quarter, a higher proportion were for females than for males.
At 31 December 2009, 1,074 people were subject to such authorisations.