Diary of a social worker: a nominated officer for the new Deprivation of Liberty safeguards

Diary of a social worker

A nominated officer for the new Deprivation of Liberty safeguards writes…


I arrive at work, and stare at the mass of e-mails. I note the subject headings of “deprivation”, “restriction” and “degradation”. I must get a strong coffee before opening these. I start the week feeling like some kind of super hero; a “protector of the people'”, (OK, in one small region) with a costume that has DoL emblazoned on the front. I finish Monday with those thoughts still firmly intact.


I answer a call from a care home manager who wants to know if their treatment of someone constitutes deprivation. I hear screams in the background. “What is happening?” I ask, fearing the worst. The person concerned is trying to watch a horror film in the residents lounge; others are objecting. I have difficulty retaining a professional demeanour, as I discuss how horror movies are not mentioned in the DoL code of practice and this is more of a care planning issue. I gleefully suggest they ask the allocated social worker to become involved. I suddenly feel sad at my lack of client contact.


The middle of the week and my superhero feeling is starting to fade. I receive a referral from a nursing home which is needing to physically stop a resident from leaving the building. He has very impaired vision and hearing and insists on using his motability scooter on a main road. The manager tells me that he is generally safe until he gets to the roundabout and then it becomes a matter of life or death. I agree to allocate the case to a best interest assessor, clarify the process and tell her I will be in touch when all the requisite assessments have been completed. I take extra care to look for motability scooters at each and every roundabout as I drive home.


Today I gear up for some training sessions for other adult social care teams in the authority. We discuss the differences between restrictions and deprivations; someone helpfully illustrated the point with references to alcohol and chocolate. I realise I am feeling very deprived. We explore how a lack of detailed care planning can lead to a care regime that may result in a deprivation of liberty and how important it is to clarify the status of a person’s mental capacity.


The statistics are in for the first quarter since the DoL safeguards came into effect and while there have not been many referrals, the ones we have had have been completed on time and have contributed to better outcomes. My super hero costume starts to glow again and I recognise that while I don’t feel like a social worker in my current job, it is nonetheless an important role.

I end the week trying to answer another query for an older person in a care home, I query with the professional if a DoL has been considered and I am a little taken back when the person retorts “I don’t think that a ‘doll’ is appropriate, she is over 65 yrs old you know.” Sigh. Oh and by the way, the ‘degradation’ subject heading from Monday was simply a typing error.

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