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How will the Liberty Protection Safeguards work in practice?

On the home page, I explain the Liberty Protection Safeguards proposals from the Law Commission and in a previous post, highlighted the very resent request from the Government, asking for written submissions to the Joint Committee on Human Right’s inquiry on the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.

In principle, the Liberty Protection Safeguards proposals are a positive step towards creating a scheme that is person-centred and a forethought rather than an afterthought or merely a box-ticking exercise.  Since the Supreme Court judgement in 2014 that has become known as Cheshire West, the pressure on those responsible for authorizing Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards has become difficult to manage with many requests to deprive people of their liberty not authorized for months or even years.  Leaving people unlawfully deprived of their liberty without the proper safeguards in place.

The proposals by the Law Commission bring the whole process into the care planning process which, in itself will reduce the number of duplicated assessments.  For example a person’s mental capacity to decide where they live may be assessed as part of the care planning process and again when they have moved as part of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.  Sometimes the two occur within days or weeks of each other.

Bringing the process alongside care needs assessments will also provide people with the benefit a thorough analysis of all available options which is a key feature of the best interests process.  Due to the delays in undertaking Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards assessments, people have often moved into a care home and their house sold before the assessments have been undertaken leaving them with only one available option, remaining in a care home.

However, the changes proposed in the Liberty Protection Safeguards scheme are not without concern.  None less than the cost of implementing and maintaining their person-centred aspect.  It’s no secret that front-line social work is under huge pressures and case loads are often high.  Bringing the proposed Liberty Protection Safeguards in line with the care planning process will create additional work for front-line social work.  Will this be sufficiently resourced or will the proposed safeguards provide little in the way of safeguards and a thorough analysis of what might be in the person’s best interests?