Huge variations in Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards caseloads persist

Number of Dols cases handled by local authorities ranged from 1 to 488 in 2012-13, reveals official figures.

Photo credit: Rex Features

Huge local variations in Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (Dols) caseloads persist, with the number of cases handled by councils ranging from 1 to 488 last year, official figures reveal.

Most English councils assessed relatively small numbers of Dols applications from care homes in 2012-13, but one-fifth of authorities handled 56% of all applications between them, according to figures published today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Dols applications require councils to commission six assessments to determine whether the person concerned lacks the mental capacity to consent to their care arrangements, whether their circumstances constitute a deprivation of liberty and whether this is in their best interests.

The figuers underline the significant variation in workloads handled by local authority Dols teams that have persisted since their introduction in 2009. They also raise questions over whether people eligible for the safeguards are going unprotected.

There was also significant variation in the number of Dols applications from hospitals handled by primary care trusts, which ranged from 0 to 113 in 2012-13. Since April 2013, with the abolition of PCTs, these cases have also been handled by councils.

Overall, the number of Dols applications from councils and care homes rose by 4% to 11,887  from 2011-12 to 2012-13, continuing the year-on-year upward trend since the introduction of the safeguards in 2011-12. However, the rate of increase slowed this year.

The proportion of applications that were authorised has stabilised, with 55% granted in 2012-13, compared with 56% in 2011-12 and 55% in 2010-11. Most applications (71%) came from care homes, while 54% of cases related to people with dementia.

Improve your Dols practice

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards will be among topics covered at Community Care’s safeguarding adults in care homes and hospitals conference, which takes place on 4 December in Birmingham. Register now for a discounted place.

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