Law Society issues new guidance on deprivation of liberty law

The Law Society has published a guide for health and social care professionals on the law on depriving people of their liberty

Guidance on the law around depriving people who do not have the mental capacity to make decisions about their care of their liberty has been published by the Law Society.

Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, professionals in England and Wales must seek authorisation if they want to restrict someone's freedom in order to care for them safely.

The Law Society guidance, aimed at health and social care professionals, sets out the legal processes staff working in settings including hospitals, care homes and supported living need to follow.

A deprivation of liberty is defined as 'the person is under continuous supervision and control and is not free to leave, and the person lacks capacity to consent to these arrangements'. Examples include using locks or key pads to stop a person going out or into different areas of a building; bedrails, wheelchair straps and splints; and the use of some medication, such as that used to calm a person.

Law Society president Andrew Caplan said: 'When someone is living with dementia or a learning disability it is important that the care and treatment they receive is in their best interests. Sometimes that means providing treatment to which they are unable to consent.'

'The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards are there to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our health and care systems,' added Mr Caplan. 'It is essential that any restrictions on their day-to-day lives are demonstrably proportionate and in their best interests.'

Click here to read the guidance

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