10th Dec, 2016

MP calls for more funds to safeguard older people in care

Les Reid 26th Oct, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A COVENTRY MP says more government funding is desperately needed to ensure older people are not being wrongly deprived of their liberty by being placed in care homes.

It follows a Supreme Court ruling last year, which now requires checks to ensure people who are not well enough to make clear decisions are not inappropriately placed in care homes and hospitals.

Since the ruling last year, there has been a fourfold increase in Coventry for referrals to a service which makes checks on people in care.

But Coventry North west Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson says the service is struggling to cope because of a lack of resources.

He says the service designed to ensure so-called “Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)” are an area of “unfunded financial and service risk” for Coventry City Council, and other local authorities.

The Dols are designed to provide independent scrutiny by social workers and health professionals.

Coventry is seeking to manage the activity with the creation of a small team to focus on this work, commissioning an external organisation to undertake assessments, and training a number of existing staff.

Mr Robinson welcomes the ruling’s extension of human rights protections.

But he added resources are urgently needed to help frontline teams cope with the flood of cases coming in.

He has now written to the health secretary Jeremy Hunt to highlight the “massive impact this is having on the already stretched adult social care system”.

He said: “I completely agree with the principle of having broader, more robust checks for people needing care, but the government needs to provide adequate funding so that councils have the time and money to do this properly.

“Failure to do this will have a hugely damaging impact on crucial social care services on which people rely and will lead to more vulnerable people left facing long waiting times for assessments.

“Currently there’s no sign of a clear position from government, which isn’t helping the staff on the ground. The teams are trying really hard to implement the safeguards properly. But the system is in meltdown in some areas.”

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.

Mr Robinson said Coventry’s huge increase in referrals equated to a 458 per cent rise in comparison to the prior two years.

Demand in 2015/2016 is expected to be around 1200 applications, ten times that experienced in either 2012/2013.

Once a case has been assessed and authorised, if a deprivation remains in place there is a requirement to review within a year.