Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) have been delayed, is this a much-needed reprieve or an unwanted
I was actually looking forward to the implementation of the new LPS this was proposed to be in October this year (2020), I am and have been for a long time excited by changes to law and the practical application of the changes, I am admittedly a geek and since I started on my learning journey law, policy and procedures have always sparked a fire in me. I would also have liked to have undertaken the AMCP training as I just love anything to do with mental capacity and the Mental Capacity Act (2005). There is no doubt that changes need to occur in relation to how we address individuals rights to liberty and particularly in how we are protecting this right. So, is it a good thing that this has been delayed?
Let us look at why the changes were so badly needed:
· A backlog of DoLS cases which grows constantly (especially after the Cheshire West case)
· The fact that all have to be reviewed yearly
· The number of individuals in ATU’s which have not been assessed
· The fact that the individuals in ATU’s are under 18’s
· The lack of clarity over the process
· That the LA held the responsibility for most DoLS applications
Although as mentioned previously in other blogs the LA’s are making progress in addressing the backlog, there did need to be a change which protected all individuals who are subjected to having their liberties deprived, some individuals die before being assessed and some are currently in ATU’s and have been for years without the prospect of an assessment. From this, it is logical to see why the process had to change and incorporate individuals from the age of 16 and streamline the process, including the yearly reviews, although the yearly reviews are currently a contentious topic. Then came Coronavirus, this has changed the country as we all went into a three-month lockdown so essentially, we were all deprived of our liberties.
Currently, our priorities have had to change, we have had to manage job losses, illness, and deaths the government's priorities had to shift to manage other issues which were at the forefront well in front of the list before protection of liberties. However, considering the backlog would it not be a good idea to implement something which is more streamlined before the new proposed date of 2022? I for one think that delaying this date is a good idea in so much as the new LPS had not been thought through in enough depth. Even in February of this year with the date of implementation proposed for October (2020) the code of practice was still not in place, there had been no time to provide education to the health and social care sector on how this is going to work in practice and who is going to take on the new roles. No training had been proposed or training standards agreed upon, this is why more thought has to be given to how to implement this safely in order to ensure that the new LPS is effective.
I understand that there is a need for the process to be more effective, but this also needs to be safe and to ensure that the individuals who are deprived of their liberties are protected properly and the process is robust and understood clearly by the health and social care workers whose responsibility it is to assess the individuals.
Yes, there are individuals who are desperately in need of an assessment to safeguard their right to liberty but if this had been rushed how effective would this have been? Our protection of decision making must come before deadlines and politically prescribed solutions and must consider the individuals who are at the receiving end of the decisions and the assessors and other health and social care professionals who are the decision-makers.
In my opinion, this is a much-needed reprieve, this will now give much needed time and attention to be able to complete the code of practice and the standards for training and education, it will allow the assessors and other health and social care professionals to become familiar with what is required from them and in the process, it will enable a much more effective and well thought through the process which actually serves the people for who it is intended and protects their rights effectively.