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A DoLS Lament

March 23, 2018

On Wednesday I was invited to the House of Commons to give evidence to the cross party Human Rights Committee who are looking into the proposed changes to the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. The panel consisted of me, Graham Enderby, Lucy Series and Alex Ruck Keene.

I think we gave a good account of ourselves and made several important points. Some of the questions seemed to me to be unfathomably vague but I guess that DoLS for you. If you’ve got the time and want to watch the session, you can find the recording here:

http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/d47bf41e-72b1-48d8-afc5-b5727a40f05b

Since Wednesday I have been preoccupied with the following two thoughts:

1. Christ. Haven’t we come a long, mazy, crazy way since Bournwood? And

2. If only we had been able to get LBBill on the statute, we’d be in a much healthier place and wouldn’t be needing such a drastic revision of the current legislation.

My first thought relates to the time we spent at the Committee discussing the latest DoLS twist – the Community DoLS. This is where I had most to say and related the recent decision that Steven is being deprived of his liberty in his own home. As I’ve heard Graham say before, “DoLS used to be about getting people out. Now they’re about keeping people in”. I expressed my incredulity that the regime Steven was under in the ATU (seclusion, physical restraint, medication) is being compared and found the same outcome as his life now in the Cowley house.

The “safeguards” bit has been lost (if it ever existed in the first place). I go to many events where the safeguards are put in place to justify a detention or to enforce restrictions. That turns everything on its head though – it’s seen by the professional decision maker as a safeguard for their actions, not the poor sod who is subjected to them. It’s often down to the family or an advocate to argue that the safeguards are intended to protect the person being deprived and ultimately get them out and home.

But it’s lamenting the LBBill that saddens me the most. In case you’ve forgotten (and I’ve included the link below), the starting point of the LBBill was to make it more difficult for the State to remove someone from their home and start the whole deprivation of their liberty.

https://lbbill.wordpress.com

People don’t drop from the sky into a place where they are deprived of the liberty. They have a home, whatever form that takes. That home may be producing a good experience for them: it may be a not so good experience. Whatever, it is still their home. The State must be forced to demonstrate that it has a bloody good reason to take that person from their home and deprive them of their liberty elsewhere. This is a Human Rights issue and I sometimes think that the whole issue of capacity and “is the person actively objecting” a bit of a red herring. Does it matter whether the person is deemed to have capacity or not? They are still being removed from their home and it doesn’t get more serious than that. I still believe that the State needs to seek the authority of the Court before making such a life changing move.

If the LBBill was made legislation, then DoLS (or whatever their replacement might be) would be a lot simpler. The whole issue of whether someone needs to be deprived of their liberty would be addressed BEFORE it happens. It would provide sufficient checks and balances BEFORE someone is wrenched from their home. All the palavar around capacity, best interests, least restrictive options would be covered BEFORE the deprivation occurs and the whole process would be properly scrutinised.

That’s what I think anyway.

I’ll end on a trivial note. I’ve received quite a bit of feedback from people who tuned in on Wednesday. My favourite is from an old friend I used to train with about 10 years ago:

“Wow mate. You were occupying a fair bit of space in that chair. Looking stacked dude”.

Altogether now….

“You’re so vain. You probably think this committee is about you”.

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5 Comments
  1. shirley buckley permalink

    Mark I watched you four on Wednesday. My problem is that Martin was not in my home, as he has always been in a residential care home, so as soon as DOLS came into place it applied to him. I thought the committee were more than vague – no one seemed to have read the MCA, The House of Lords Committee under Lord Hardie in 2014 was far superior in my opinion. Have you read the written submissions: the best of them all is retired Mr Justice Charles “the case law is in a mess” He was the presiding judge for Martin from 2007 to 2014. None of the proposals put forward have any chance of getting Martin out of this “mess” (or “shambles” as Charles described it in 2007)

  2. Given the bulk and scope of the subject of DoLS, it did seem like a pretty superficial skate around the topic. Hope the Committee takes #LBBill seriously as a way to stop DoLS problems before they start.

    And on an entirely frivolous note, I thought when I saw the picture accompanying this tweet:

    https://twitter.com/AdvocacyFocus/status/973896202520616960,

    “Blimey, that gym Mark’s been going to is something else. As well as weights and cardio machines, they must have an anti-gravity device, ‘cos compared with older photos, his bulk seems to have shifted upwards….”

  3. Mark, you identify the fundamental truth when you say ‘Does it matter whether the person is deemed to have mental capacity or not..they are still being removed from their home and it doesn’t get more serious than that’.
    What is actually happening to a person with capacity of without has the same emotional loss associated with it.
    I read the Law Commission wanted to change the phrase DoLS to ‘Liberty Safeguards’ or something like that, which is easier for people to understand as DoLS is confusing.

  4. Frances permalink

    It is a minefield, our son is just going through DOLs process so have read about Dols but at a meeting this week I have been told his RPR has to be a Paid IMCA and not a family member/friend/Support worker. I am about to challenge that
    Listening to your story it appears we should have both.

  5. simone aspis permalink

    Frances please do challenge the decision – honestly – there appears to be limited independence around

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