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Why aren’t charities campaigning on deprivation of liberty?

Dols image (Milton Montenegro/Photodisc/Getty Images)

I’d thoroughly recommend reading this excellent post on the Small Places blog about the lack of campaigning on the deprivation of liberty safeguards (Dols) by charities who should be taking an interest: liberty and human rights organisations, on the one hand, and older people’s and disability bodies on the other. The former tend to focus on other liberty issues – control orders, for instance – while the latter seem to focus on issues around dignity in care, according to research by blogger Lucy Series, who is a legal researcher and former social care worker.

Her findings are based on an analysis mentions of various terms – “deprivation of liberty safeguards”, “control orders”, “dignity” and various others – on a selection of organisations’ websites.

As she points out, thousands of people are being deprived of their liberty in care settings without the safeguards provided for by the Dols, while there are serious concerns over how well the Dols themselves provide a safeguard.

So why aren’t these charities taking up the cudgels?

Series doesn’t profess to have a definitive answer; however she offers a suggestion: that there persists a belief that people in care don’t need liberty, but do need dignity and safety.

She says: “The trouble with liberty is it carries risks, risks that we are often unquestioningly drawn to mitigate…Thinking about liberty issues subverts the holdy-handsy image of care on the brochures of the care services our loved ones, our fellow citizens, use.”

It’s a striking conclusion that challenges assumptions of progress in how society views people with learning disabilities, and raises uncomfortable questions about how older people – particularly those with dementia – are viewed.

I’d be interested to hear what the charities involved think about this and whether we might see some changes in respect of their approach to the Dols.

Image: Milton Montenegro/Photodisc/Getty

Mithran Samuel is Community Care’s adults editor.

Mithran Samuel

About Mithran Samuel

Mithran Samuel is adults' editor at Community Care.

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