The Deprivation of Liberties Safeguards (DoLs) go ‘live’ in just over a week now. These were a part of the amended Mental Capacity Act (2005) which establish a legal framework by which someone who lacks capacity may be ‘deprived of their liberty’ if it is assessed to be in their best interests and according to a stream of conditions and indicators. It means we are preparing to receive referrals to assess those who are in this situation currently or of whom there are plans to do so in the future.
We are counting down to the 1st April – and while I should be concentrating my efforts on finishing up the coursework, I’m really at the ‘looking for distraction’ stage of studying that necessitated another posting.
We had a meeting of Best Interests Assessors last week in the borough. Currently there are about 30 and that covers the Primary Care Trust, the Mental Health Trust and the local authority. Most are social workers – including all the dual-trained AMHPs (Approved Mental Health Professionals) but there are also a some OTs (Occupational Therapists) as well as some Learning Disability Nurses and Mental Health Nurses. The meeting was an opportunity for the newly-established DoLs Office to distribute their freshly minted policy and for us to meet with some of the directors who will be ‘our’ signatories. We also met our ‘legal advice’ team which was quite comforting. It was also an opportunity to discuss thoughts and concerns in the run up to April 1st (with chocolate biscuits – they really know how to sell these things to us!).
One of the main organisational concerns seems to revolve around the Mental Health Assessors who are doctors trained specifically to carry out these parts of the Assessments. Apparently, a list is going to be held centrally (and nationally) of all the doctors who have completed this training. There seems to be a minor rumbling of concern about how many doctors have actually completed this training.
Each full set of assessments needs to be completed by at least two people, a trained Best Interests Assessor and a Mental Health Assessor at the very least so we can see where potential concerns may be coming from.
As for expectations, they seem to be relatively low regarding the amount of assessments that will come in. We have quite a lot of (general) hospital beds in the borough and that seems to be causing a fair amount of stress as they (the acute Trust) have developed an extraordinarily robust policy which seems to set a fairly low threshold for ‘Deprivation of Liberty’.
Of course, developing a robust policy isn’t concerning but there is a thought that perhaps a lot of referrals will come from that source.
We heard though that there is likely to be at least an element of reliance on neighbouring boroughs regarding possibly sharing out some of the workload – as there is a regional local implementation network that has been making these kinds of plans for months.. but even just over a week away some of the details are less than clear.
As for us, best interests assessors (although while I still have this deadline for essay hanging over me I’m almost reluctant to tempt fate in this way!), we have completed a ‘profile’ form to match our background and experience with those who we will be assessing – including home addresses and areas of England which we would find it easy to travel to (I indicted for example, where my siblings live – just in case my borough has placed anyone in those areas – one person who is trained, for example, commutes in from Brighton – I expect he will she kept fairly busy on the south coast.. !).
Being in central London we make quite a lot of out-of-borough placements, so while the council has done a lot of work with the local nursing and residential homes as well as the hospitals, there is an unknown factor relating to how many out-of-borough assessments will come in.
I forsee a lot of seaside trips in my future.. Bognor in May. Lovely.