Making decisions for ourselves is something many of us take for granted, but in some circumstances that right may be taken away from us for our own safety. The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards provide a legal framework to protect us if this happens. They provide protection for those in hospital or care homes who lack capacity.
People affected by the Safeguards can be amongst the most vulnerable in society. The report highlights that people who lack the capacity to consent or disagree to deprivations of liberty are better protected than previously. However, there is a variation across Wales in the way the safeguards are used.
- The evidence suggests that much more needs to be done to understand the relevance of the safeguards and implement them consistently in practice.
- There is significant variation in how local health boards and local authorities carry out their duties as supervisory bodies.
- Requests for reviews of the qualifying arrangements in social care and health are infrequent. They amount to very few when compared to the number of standard authorisations issued in 2012-13 and in previous years.
- Fewer people received support from Independent Mental Capacity Advocates in 2012-13 than in the previous year.
- More needs to be done to explain the usefulness and purpose of the safeguards and to encourage their implementation.
CSSIW and HIW will undertake an inspection on the operation of the safeguards in early 2014. This inspection will look at the way in which local authorities and local health boards are undertaking their responsibilities. It will also explore practice in care homes and hospitals and the support provided to staff to make best use of the safeguards.
Chief Inspector of CSSIW, Imelda Richardson, said:
More work must be done to ensure the most vulnerable people’s rights in Wales are protected. The review that we will carry out with Healthcare Inspectorate Wales over the coming months will be an important piece of work to identify what safeguards are in place and what further work is needed.
Chief Executive of HIW, Dr Kate Chamberlin, added:
The decision to deprive an individual of their liberty is one that needs careful and thorough consideration. The report highlights the variation in the use of the safeguards across Wales and this is an area we have already begun working jointly on with CSSIW to investigate. We look forward to the commencement of our joint National Review in which we will explore the reasons for the inconsistent use of the safeguards across Wales.