Lady Hale Comes To Cowley
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