Deprivation of Liberty safeguards (DoLS)

What was the person’s situation before working with Advocacy Focus? 

Mark is a 21-year-old-man who lived in a Care Home. Mark has a diagnosis of a learning disability and was deemed to lack capacity regarding his care, treatment and accommodation. The Local Authority had authorised a Deprivation of Liberty safeguards (DoLS) which meant that Mark was required to live at a Care Home under certain restrictions (rules). Mark was supervised continually and was not free to go out into the community without staff with him.  

The Care Home had locked doors and Mark was not free to leave. Mark always had a member of staff with him in his flat during the hours of 8:00am and 10:00pm. When out in the local community he always had a member of staff with him and when outside of the local area he had two staff with him. Mark had a member of staff who would sleep in the room next to his bedroom at night-time to supervise him. Mark had a lock on his bedroom door, so when he left his bedroom staff would be notified. 

Mark was not allowed unsupervised access to the internet and was only allowed to use the internet for 3 hours a day. When Mark was online gaming or speaking to his family or friends, his calls would be monitored and listened to by staff using a headset.  

Mark was unable to go to community events at short notice, as staffing needed to be put in place to ensure that activities were taking place safely in the community. Therefore Mark had little control over his daily / weekly routine.  

What did the Independent Advocate do to help the person?  

The Independent Advocate explained the DoLS authorisation and the restrictions in place to Mark, who objected to some of the restrictions and told his Advocate he wanted to move to live nearer his dad. This was 300 miles away.  

Mark stated that he did not feel he had any “freedom” and that he felt restricted in all aspects of his life.  

Mark was informed of his right to be able to challenge his living arrangements and the restrictions in place, via the Court of Protection.  

The Advocate supported Mark to voice his views and ask that his life be changed to give him more freedom and less supervision. 

The Advocate asked for meetings involving all the people who put the restrictions in place to see if changes could be made for Mark. Mark’s advocate also supported him to find a solicitor, so that he could challenge the location of where he lived and move nearer to his dad. 

What was the outcome?  

The Independent Advocate challenged the restrictions on Mark’s behalf over the course of the advocacy relationship. Mark’s capacity was assessed for all the restrictions in place, to ensure that decision-making was being made legally.  

Mark’s supervision when gaming and having telephone calls with his family and friends was stopped. Mark was able to spend the daytime unsupervised in his bedroom, to give him some space and free time to enjoy alone. Mark was able to access the internet without supervision. Mark was able to have friends over to the Care Home to spend time gaming without staff being around watching him. 

Mark has now moved to the area in which he wanted to live, to be near his father. This has had a vast impact on Mark’s mental health, as he missed his dad dearly and had not seen him for several years due to the distance involved with travel. Mark has now enrolled in college to complete some of his GCSE examinations and would like to start an apprenticeship.  

Why was advocacy support so effective?  

Advocacy ensured that Mark wishes, feelings, views, and values were listened to. The Advocate was a safeguard for Mark to make sure that the people making decisions on his behalf firstly considered his views, and secondly that any decisions made were in line with the law. Advocacy ensured that Mark took back control of his life, and his capacity was assessed for all the rules which had been put in place.  

The Independent Advocate made sure that Mark’s rights were upheld and that he was able to challenge, as is his right, under the DoLS legal framework.  

The Independent Advocate made sure that all decisions made on Mark’s behalf were the least restrictive option and that they promoted Mark’s autonomy and gave him more independence and less restrictive rules and more control in his life. 

The Independent Advocate ensured that Mark developed the confidence and skills to be able to say when he did not agree with something, or he wanted parts of his life to be changed for the better.  

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