I was on the ward yesterday morning. For a substantial chunk of time. Our borough had a rush of applications for assessments for authorisations of deprivation of liberty in the last few days in April. Just in time to take advantage of the extended April deadlines. They came from the wards in the psychiatric hospital that cater for over 65s.
Going from training roughly 30 Best Interests Assessors, the actual number able and willing to carry out assessments has fallen to single figures. Some teams are claiming that until there is any acknowledgement and workload relief, they will not accept any assessments, some people didn’t actually pass the training course and need to resubmit and some people are refusing to complete any assessments until that are actually paid the additional money that was promised.
I didn’t know that there was a reason to object so have got on with the assessments I was given. Yesterday was my third. Hardly overwhelming – but it’s all time that could be spent doing ‘other things’. Isn’t that always the case?
So as I wandered onto the ward to meet the Mental Health Assessor at the prearranged time, I saw another social worker in the office locked in conversation with the independent doctor.
She was just completing her second best interests assessment and the doctor had doubled up and very sensibly arranged the two Mental Health parts of the assessment for the same morning.
The amount of paper was unbelievable. These forms while not as scary as they seem at first, they are long and they are wordy. There are tick boxes that account for all possible outcomes. So there are lots of pieces of paper with lots of choices. We had reams of paper scattered around in an attempt to organise these forms into some kind of order.
The doctor commented about the sad death of all these trees. It really was, with all the forms scattered and trying to organise them, a veritable paper mountain.
I can’t help but think there must be a better way to have organised this. Electronic forms and tablet PCs, perhaps. I wouldn’t be loved for sugggesting it to a those of my colleagues who suffer from technofear and of course, some kind of electronic signature arrangement needs to be in place but the amount of pieces of paper was just mindboggling.
My colleague had a bit of a crisis when the Mental Health, Mental Capacity and Eligibility Forms all got mixed up into a kind of mass mess of papers. We used my ‘stapled’ blueprints to unravel them.
So anyone who is involved in these assessments, another lesson learnt – always staple your forms together before you go because the pages can look remarkably similar!
As for my assessment – I didn’t actually think there that the situation amounted to a deprivation of liberty for the person in question. Restrictions, yes – but not a deprivation.
That seems to have been the conclusion for a number of these applications which were made en masse.
At some point, I may well return to the distinctions between restrictions and deprivations of liberty – but my brain needs a bit of recovery time..
Actually later today someone that I care co-ordinate is being assessed. I spoke to the Best Interests Assessor yesterday. I was amazed that application had been made as I hadn’t considered that she was being deprived of her liberty – again, I’d had definitely said there was a restriction but not a deprivation.
Seeing as these referrals (and there were, I think about six) have all emanated from the same source, I foresee some additional training running from the DoLs office who have been having a little panic.