Nine-fold hike in Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards caseloads confirmed by official figures

Government statistics confirm findings of Community Care investigation into impact of Supreme Court ruling on Dols case numbers

dols graph
Source: Data obtained by Community Care under FOI from 122 authorities. Breach number based on annual breach rates from 100 councils that held data. For 2014-15 councils were asked to provide data up to 28th August - the date that FOI request was sent out.

A nine-fold hike in Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (Dols) caseloads in the wake of a landmark court ruling has been confirmed by official statistics, a month after Community Care revealed the rise.

Average monthly Dols applications have risen from about 1,000 a month in 2013-14 to almost 9,000 a month, from 1 April to 30 September this year, according to figures from 130 councils released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) today.

The nine-fold rise reflects the findings of Community Care’s investigation into the impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Cheshire West case in March. The judgement effectively lowered the threshold for a deprivation of liberty in care, triggering a torrent of applications from providers to detain people who lack capacity to consent to their care arrangements from providers, overwhelming council Dols teams.

We revealed in October that statutory timescales to assess applications were being breached in half of cases as a result of the hike in numbers.

Councils are demanding that the government provides urgent funding to help them meet the increased demand, but this has not yet been acceded to. To inform any resource decisions, ministers have asked the HSCIC to collect quarterly data on Dols cases to assess the scale of the increase.

Today the centre published the second of its quarterly collections, based on data received in October this year. Data from 132 of England’s 152 councils showed they received 31,300 Dols applications from 1 July to 30 September 2014, compared with 12,500 for the whole of 2013-14.

The HSCIC also provided updated data for its first quarterly collection. This showed that the 130 councils that submitted data for both quarters received 53,900 applications from 1 April to 30 September, an average of 8983 per month, compared with about 1,000 a month for 2013-14.

The HSCIC is not collecting data on timescale breaches. However, as of October, 38% of Dols applications received between April and June this year, had either been withdrawn by the provider or not been signed off by the council. This suggests significant breaches of the timescales, which are 21 calendar days for standard cases and seven calendar days for urgent cases; urgent cases constitute the majority.

Update your Dols knowledge

Book your place at Community Care’s forthcoming conference on safeguarding adults in care homes and hospitals to update your knowledge on Dols, the Care Act and other developments in practice, policy and law. It takes place on 2 December in central London.


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