Increase in number of DoLS applications

The number of people being detained for mental health issues, dementia, or learning difficulties has reached the highest level on record, according to new figures.

The report, published by dementia charity Alzheimer’s Society, shows that Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) applications rose by 11 per cent compared to the year previous.

Total figures reached 217,235 – the highest number since DoLS applications were introduced in 2009. Meanwhile, thousands of applications have taken more than a year to be completed.

This is despite the recommended time-free of just three weeks, said Alzheimer’s Society.

DoLS, an amendment to the Mental Capacity Act 2005, ensures extra safeguards are needed if the restrictions and restraint used will deprive a person of their liberty. It can only be used if it is in the person’s best interests.

A care home or hospital must ask a local authority if they can deprive a person of their liberty – known as requesting standard authorisation.

Gavin Terry, Policy Manager at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “These figures prove once again an issue we have been highlighting for years – that an unacceptable number of people are being left in limbo by a system that is too complex, over-stretched and under-resourced.

“Depriving anyone of their liberty must only ever be a last resort, and in the person’s best interests but too often we hear cases where people with dementia and carers are left confused and distressed by a system that fails to meet their needs.

“It is vital that the Government responds to the Law Commission’s proposals and takes forward a comprehensive plan of reform that ensures the rights of people with dementia not to be unlawfully deprived of their liberty are protected.”