Amendment to DoLS law welcomed
A proposed amendment to Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) legislation has been welcomed by care providers representative body Care England. Speaking at Care England’s annual conference in November, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, chair of National Capacity Forum, said a change to the Policing and Crime Bill, initially proposed by Ann Coffey MP and supported by the Government, amends the meaning of state detention in Section 48 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.
Care England chief executive Professor Martin Green explained the significance of the proposed change.
“Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards are designed to keep people safe, but they have long been a bone of contention with the care home sector and families owing to the unintended consequence meaning if someone is subject to a DoLS, their death must be investigated,” said Prof. Green.
“This means that older people with dementia, whose deaths are expected, are frequently subjected to investigations after death.
“Baroness Finlay’s amendment is extremely welcome. Care homes need to be a place of safety, but our members have reported uniformed police officers attending care homes under their legal duties to investigate a death of a resident, making it a crime scene even when the death was expected. This is extremely upsetting for families, care home staff and fellow residents. Investigations into deaths under DoLS take needless time which prevents families from being able to mourn and proceed with funeral arrangements. This does not allow for the calm and dignified death that most people and their families want”.
Baroness Finlay said she was delighted that the Government had accepted the change, which should come into force in early 2017. “It will save a great deal of distress to the bereaved,” said Baroness Finlay.
“Last year alone there were more than six-and-a-half thousand unnecessary inquests. When someone subject to DoLS dies of natural causes and the death was expected, an inquest will no longer be required. But of course if there are any unusual circumstances, then the coroner must be informed.”