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Lady Hale Comes To Cowley

March 23, 2017

Today, Steven had his Community Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Assessment.

The need for this came about from the Cheshire West case and Lady Hale’s famous acid test. Up until that point DoLS had only applied to people who lacked capacity and were in a care home or a hospital. The acid test extended the scope of the safeguards to, among other things, supported living and crucially in our case, people living in their own home. As I wrote last week there isn’t one minute of one day as I watch Steven living his life in his own home that I consider he is being deprived of his liberty. The idea is beyond ludicrous. Mind you, I never think about the acid test either as he is microwaving his sausage and spaghetti hoops.

The new social worker came and she was great. I think we made an unspoken pact in the first five minutes, along the lines of “We both know this is nonsense but we have to do it, so let’s not debate the point of it and just do it”.

As Willy Russell did with Blood Brothers, I’ll give you the ending at the start. It’ll save time and then I’ll describe how the conclusion was arrived at.

Yes – Steven is being deprived of his liberty in the Cowley house.

The first part of the acid test is, Is the person free to leave on their own? I struggled with this because for me, “free” doesn’t come into it. Steven is assessed as needing 2:1 support for his, and others’ safety. Steven has never tried or asked to go out on his own but for the purpose of the assessment, that is neither here nor there. The fact that he needs someone to go with him to the shop to help him with the money is enough to tick box one of the acid test.

The other part of the acid test is, Is the person under constant supervision? This is more involved than question one. The language of a community DoLS is very different to the language of a care plan. In his care plan Steven is assessed as needing 1:1 support in the home, partly for the same reasons as question one but also because he needs help with things he struggles with. “Support” in a care plan becomes “Supervision” in a community DoLS. I got stuck at this point because I don’t really see Steven needing supervision, using my normal definition of the word. But that is also neither here nor there because for several reasons, Steven is seen as being supervised. Here are a few of the deciding factors (There were a lot more that I’ve already forgotten):

1. Help with some aspects of personal care – teeth cleaning, shaving & arse wiping.

2. Help with setting the controls on the washing machine.

3. Help with changing the settings on the TV from TV to DVD.

4. Help with cooking a meat and two veg meal.

5. Help with organising repairs if anything gets broken.

6. Help with doing the online weekly shop.

7. Help with reading letters.

8. Help with dialing the number on the phone to arrange his transport.

9. Help with potentially dangerous household chores (like ironing).

And that was that. All those things amount to Steven being deprived of his liberty in his own home. I came periously close to a “the king has got no clothes on” moment by remarking that this new perspective of DoLS must account for all the learning disabled people living in their own place or with their families. The social worker confirmed that there are 1000s in the borough going through this process. It also covers people with dementia living with their families.

I did have the rather uncharitable thought at one point that all this feels like a million miles from the Mental Capacity Act, which was designed to be an enabling piece of legislation. Perhaps that’s what’s at the heart of this nonsense – enabled people means less bureaucracy. And we can’t have that.

What happens next? I get the paperwork as the Community DoLS equivalent to a Relevant Person Representative. I’ve forgotten the name of my new title but it certainly ain’t “Dad”. The social worker has “mountains” of paperwork to complete and then the whole lot will be sent off to the Court of Protection for authorisation.

I have it on good authority that it costs the LA £400 to take each authorisation to the Court. Needless to say, some unscrupulous LAs are trying to pass the cost of that on to the person. Just imagine – you might have to pay £400 to authorise your own deprivation of liberty in your own home!

Oh, and in a year’s time we’ll do it all over again.

There was nothing threatening about the process. I didn’t feel personally singled out. It was a nothing process.

Were there any advantages, benefits or disadvantages for Steven in all of this? In case you’ve forgotten after this stream of bewilderment, this is all about his life.

In the epitome of the law of bureaucracy, all this matters not one jot to Steven’s life. Nothing changes. Nothing is made better; nothing is made worse. Nothing happens.

Yesterday Private Eye ran a piece about the Law Commission’s new scheme and quoted considerably from Steven’s 2010 case. I might contact my old buddy, Heather, at The Eye and tell her about today’s nonsense. It’s right up their street.

Just think how many people have had their care packages cut to pay for this administrative balderdash.


From → Social Care

  1. Lady Hale is eminently reasonable. It would be great if you could send her a copy of the blog.

  2. swanarchie07 permalink

    Ludicrous I don’t no what else to say

  3. LizzzieD permalink

    And if it is OK to be deprived of your liberty at home, is it going to slide into being OK to be deprived when it isn’t quite so OK?

    The grain of sense has got lost in a whole sea of nonsense here.

  4. Dr R permalink

    It struck me that all the people (the 1000s in the borough) undergoing this *are* being deprived of their liberty as described. But not by the people around them, these are the enablers for them. They are being deprived of their liberty by their dementia, or their learning disabilities, or by being elderly, or by some other health/wellbeing issue.
    It seems like very strange language to use for people who need help to lead a happy and fulfilling life!
    I’m so glad you got on with the new social worker, it must have been a great relief to you.

    • People around them are not always enablers, though, but I do agree that the DoLS is very strange language.
      I’ll never forget how a family told me that their loved person in hospital with dementia, bedridden and supposed to die, had medication reduced and suddenly improved in some ways. He was seen walking around, but instead of celebrating, was confined to bed with a bedrail because of *risk*.
      I think there’s something wrong with enablers, who couldn’t create a safe place to walk. There’s so much negativity or restricting sometimes.

  5. simone aspis permalink

    I think Lady Hale makes a good point – whilst Steve has a care package and can leave his own home whenever he wants. This is not the case for many disabled people with LDs that yes they have the key to their own door but do not have sufficient support to enjoy the same freedom to come and go and do whatever one wants as a non disabled person can do. It is the case that a disabled person with LD can be a prisoner in their own home with their own tenancy. So actually I think Lady Hale (as usual) does have a good point. Similalry whilst there are many parents who will support their disabled son / daughter to come and go form and to their family home – this is not always the case. And therefore deprivation of liberty can happen in a parental home unless there is external support for the person to go out by him / herself with a PA – freedom is not dependent on parental permission or coverneice. I think like with all these things – its about some common sense.

    • Did you misread the post Simone? The outcome of the assessment was that Steven is being deprived of his liberty. Therefore, the way the acid test is being conducted means there is no difference between Steven, who can do anything he wants on his home & the person who is locked in their room the majority of the day. Steven does have external support and my support to go out but that doesn’t matter – he is still seen as being deprived of his liberty. As regards freedom being down to parental permission or convenience, I know of loads of people in supported living who hardly ever go out because the funds aren’t made available to pay for staff to facilitate this.

    • LizzzieD permalink

      There is a huge difference between a person with LD who has no other option but to live in the parental home, and one who chooses and prefers it. The second has the LIBERTY to choose – and also to choose who wipes their bum! Sure, some inadequate or authoritarian parents CAN deprive or ignore choices – but caring parents are more likely to try to alleviate restrictions than impose them.

      I have been fortunate to be able to move away from “living in the parental home” to adults sharing a home with room for feelings of ownership and autonomy. Why should that have to be checked out expensively and annually? Are you depriving someone of their liberty if you persuade someone not to drive a car when drunk? Is the “liberty” to stumble into a busy road one that needs to be constantly defended?

      • The parental home is often the ‘family home’ too, sometimes not. There might be cultural differences too.
        LizzzieD, you clearly have ‘mental capacity’ to choose who does things for you, so you’d pass many tests.
        The problem I see is that those with LD who can’t express themselves, are told what to do by all around them and have no choice.
        I see an all-pervading deprivation of liberty, that I often see extending to so many things, as assumptions of lack of capacity in practice happen a lot more than testing mental capacity (which is often not done properly).
        And even if the person can’t appear to understand/retain/express, their choices should still be respected, I feel, unless it’s something obviously dangerous.

  6. Sorry, I wanted to add that the constant assessing and pigeon-holing of others who are ‘different’ seems to be much more important than improving staffing ratios or opportunities or assessing if support plans are carried out.

    • LizzzieD permalink

      I accept, of course, that families and the “family home” can fairly easily become places of oppression – and not just for people with LD! Husbands, wives, and minor children are just as likely to be deprived of their liberty one way or another, human nature being what it is.

      But that is not what this is about. A complex philosophical/legal construct has filtered down, as it so often does, into an administrative nonsense. And I find myself asking why now, exactly? Is there so much money sloshing around that £400 x a few thousands is neither here no there? Don’t think so. Have local authorities suddenly become very conscious of their legal obligations? Given the way large chunks of the Care Act are being ignored, don;t think it is that, either. So whose bright idea is this, right now in the present climate? Seems like one more piece of harrassment of families to me. Social Services are probably well aware of the families where there MIGHT be a problem – what would they do about it? Try warehousing again?

      I once heard someone eminent comment that family carers are one of the last groups that can be discriminated against with impunity. Anyone interested in our human rights and liberties?

      As for people with LD who cannot clearly express their wishes – well, my daughter falls into that group. As independence is something I value highly, I did once think that she might, at some stage, want to leave home as a young adult in the usual fashion. Now approaching middle age, she can still make it clear that that is the last thing she wants. Since she has been able to have some say in who cares for her and how, I don;t get the impression that she feels oppressed with her liberties at risk – though, as her deputy, I do constantly interrogate my own actions to try and make sure.

    • weary mother permalink

      … can only hope that the promised increases in social care funding, is not sucked up to buy an army of care managers. Or scooped up into increased pay and benefits, chummy conference fees and hotel plus.. and shiny new desks… for LA commissioners.

  7. weary mother permalink

    Some time ago on Marks blog, I shared that whenever I visited a small town some distance from my home, I would see a man and a woman, probably in their late thirties.

    She was small and always full of life, always interested even in the shops where they were not welcome.

    Him thin and slightly taller always looked serious, always looking down and purposeful.

    In charge.

    Both had quite serious (to me) learning disabilities, always holding the others hand.

    They seemed to have a way of spending the day, that was going in and out of the shops; used the same route every day. In most shops encouraged not to stay. Onlyy in one shop really did it appear they were made welcome. Were known by name there; time was taken in this charity shop, to talk to them. They never bought anything, and when I asked after them the belief was that they had no family who cared.

    They smelt and were very unkempt. But together, everywhere .. always. For years.

    I asked about them whenever I saw them, people knew little about them, some said rumour had it the mans’ brother had addiction, and took their benefits.

    I am busy always with the needs and difficulties of my own son on my mind, and I did not think of this couple till I saw the man the other day, walking the same route, in same shops, the same routine.

    He was alone.

    I asked in the kind shop, where his friend was and I was told she had died. She had appeared to me to be only 40 or so, at most.

    She had died.

    This man is now free to walk the same daily route, to be encouraged to leave the same shops, alone.

    How and why his learning disabled and always with him partner – had died so young – no one seems to know…

    They smelt and they were dirty. And they never bought anything.

    Heart breaking.

    And just another story.

    • It isn’t just another story.
      You’ve just recorded for everyone to read about the awesome union they had. That’s what life’s about. Belonging with others, being loved, having a partner or family or real friends. That’s what is missing in assessment.

  8. LizzzieD permalink

    And it may well be that us, with our own problems and experiences, are the only ones who notice or care – afraid that without us, our own children will be as bereft.

  9. where are the community checks for the people left deprived of their liberty without mobility aids ( or wheelchair assessment referrals ) ,adaptions ( or assistance to apply for grants ) advocacy and support .

    Freedom to leave the home but no means to leave. Not assessed as needing 1:1 ‘supervision’ with a combination of mild learning difficulties and more significant physical disabilities. Under house arrest by the system, and all perfectly legal.

    • Yes, it is house arrest. What an evil situation.
      Those who don’t care will get old too.
      All this I Am Charlie business and freedom of speech business – and yet restriction of liberty is an industry.

  10. Any advice of what to do if your disabled loved one was stolen and no contact is allowed and he is not free to come home at this stage? I note that Mark Neary is saying he took action after Lady Hale’s Cheshire & Cheshire West 2016 Case. Wr did him no wrong as well. A Blanket assessment was used.

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