Living in DoLs houses

Just when I thought I was pretty hot on all the acronyms that are flung around the workplace, I have been hit with a few more. It came as a result of a conversation with one of the managers (there are whole swathes of different levels of managers in the local authority that become very difficult to unravel ) who informed me I would need to go to Dols training to be a BI assessor early next year.

I couldn’t actually understand what she was saying at first and then she explained that she was talking about Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (which, apparently are known in the circles as DoLs) and being a Best Interest Assessor.

Of course, I had expected it would be something I’d be doing, as I work generally with older people and have just come off the ASW training so tick the boxes.

It certainly sounds, at least initially, less troubling morally than being actively responsible for detention of people.

I have though, become acutely more aware of it and the need for a robust Human Rights Act since working with compulsory admissions to hospital – and with the Deprivation of Liberty safeguards due to be implemented in April 2009, it’s an interesting development to turn back to.

The implementation is the DoL safeguards is very overdue as the Bournewood decision was handed down by the European Court of Human Rights in 2004.

It has been a long time coming but a few years later, there will be some kind of recognition that people who lack mental capacity need additional safeguards if they are held in hospitals, residential care and other ‘care’ facilities, without being able to give their consent.

Currently, as far as I know anyway, the plan is to train up some people who work within mental health teams to reassess people who have been placed in residential/nursing care or long term care without being able to give their consent and assess their Best Interests in respect to this and ensure that the placements have been made in their best interests.

As well as assessing best interest, a number of other criteria are specified including a separate assessment of mental health by a different person (a doctor) to verify that there is a mental disorder that warrants the level of care that is provided.

It has the potential to provide a more formal advocacy role and the hope of being to put into practice one of those wooly goals of ‘speaking up for those without a voice’ ideals that drew me to social work in the first place.

Although well overdue it has the potential to provide some kind of voice for people who might not otherwise be heard and although there is the usual heart-sinking response to anything that seems to involve more paperwork/assessment and administration anyway, I am hoping that in this case, it will be able to affect a better standard of decision-making all round.