Changes to Deprivation of Liberty safeguards (DoLS)
Caring Times, May 2017
Provider representative body Care England has welcomed the changes that coroners will no longer have a duty to undertake an inquest into the death of every person who was subject to an authorisation under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
Professor Martin Green, chief executive for Care England said: “Care England has worked hard to ensure that these changes take place. At present many older people with dementia, whose deaths are expected, are frequently subjected to investigations after death. Often police who are uniformed attend care homes under their legal duties and begin questioning staff and relatives as though a crime has been committed.
“This is extremely distressing 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.”
The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are an amendment to the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which protects the rights of people who may lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves. The DoLS are used when it is necessary to deprive the liberty of someone who lacks capacity to consent to their care or treatment in order to keep them safe from harm – i.e. to do so in their best interests.
After 3 April any person subject to a DoLS who dies will not need to be reported to the coroner unless the death is unknown or where there are concerns that the cause of death was unnatural or violent, including where there is any concern about the care given having contributed to the persons death.