The Safeguards apply to people over the age of 18 who can’t consent to treatment or care in a hospital or care home.
DoLS were developed to ensure people’s human rights are protected and maintained and the care they receive is in their best interests and delivered in the least restrictive way. The Safeguards provide a legal framework for deprivations to prevent breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The monitoring report, published today, found there was a 20% rise in the number of applications made in 2013-14. This is the highest number of applications that have been made since the Safeguards were established in 2009.
The findings indicate that the Safeguards are still not being used consistently throughout Wales, with variations in the number of applications made and authorisations granted.
During the period covered by this monitoring report, the Supreme Court handed down a judgement in the Cheshire West case which extended the definition of what constitutes a deprivation and has increased the number of applications.
It was for this reason, as well as the continued variations and inconsistencies discovered during our 2011/12 monitoring report, that CSSIW and HIW undertook a separate national review of DoLS which was published in November 2014.
That report found a need for greater awareness and understanding in care homes and hospitals of how the Safeguards could be used to support people who lack mental capacity, and protect their human rights.
Commenting on the latest monitoring report, Kate Chamberlain, Chief Executive, HIW said:
The Safeguards were developed to protect the rights of some of the most vulnerable people in our society who lack the capacity to make decisions about their care and treatment.
I am pleased the report indicates that awareness of the Safeguards is increasing. However, in light of the Cheshire West Supreme Court judgement in March 2014, it is vital that this awareness continues to increase, as the ruling could have significant implications for the use of the Safeguards going forward.
Imelda Richardson, Chief Inspector of CSSIW commented:
Depriving an individual of their liberty is a decision that requires careful and thorough consideration and it is therefore vital that the Safeguards are used appropriately, are well understood and embedded in every day practice. Along with HIW we will continue to monitor how DoLS are used across Wales in 2014-15 as part of our inspection programme.
HIW and CSSIW have been monitoring and reporting on the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards for five years, since the legislation was introduced in 2009.