The number of forms professionals need to complete for deprivation of liberty safeguards (Dols) authorisations has been cut by almost two-thirds after a government-backed review concluded that some of the paperwork was ‘unnecessary’.
The Dols project group, led by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass), found that the paperwork could be condensed from 32 forms down to 13 ‘without losing necessary quality’. The new forms can be downloaded on the Adass website.
‘Not an easy task’
Writing on the Adass website, project lead Lorraine Currie said: “Reducing the forms from 32 to 13 was not an easy task. Some elements of the forms are dictated by regulations and can’t change. Others seem particularly unnecessary. There are some situations still not really covered by a form and these will be addressed in the guidance which will accompany the forms.
“The team have added some forms which didn’t previously exist, a “No Deprivation” form in particular. During consultation some people asked why this was necessary. This form has been used in the West Midlands for the last few years and it is very popular with best interests assessors and speeds up the process. There is a new form for a further request for authorisation which is very popular with Managing Authorities. There is also a new form to notify the Coroner of a death.”
She added: “We are confident that this revision of the forms will play a small part in speeding up the processing of Dols authorisations without losing necessary quality.”
The pressure on teams
Under the Dols, local authorities must assess whether people who lack capacity to consent to their care arrangements are being deprived of their liberty in care homes or hospitals and, if so, whether this is in their best interests and necessary to protect them from harm. The Dols are designed to provide independent scrutiny, by social workers and health professionals, of these care arrangements.
The government commissioned the review of Dols forms as part of its response to a House of Lords committee report on the Dols published in March of last year. The Lords report described the Dols process as “overly complex”. In its response, the government said that professionals often found Dols forms “unnecessarily bureucractic and cumbersome.”
Dols teams have seen a sustained surge in referrals following a Supreme Court ruling last March that effectively lowered the threshold for what constitutes deprivation of liberty in care. A Community Care investigation, published in October last year, found that referrals had increased nine-fold in the six months following the ruling and teams were struggling to carry out assessments within statutory timescales.