[United Kingdom] Deprivation of liberty: emergency guidance due to help social workers deal with corona virus impact

26 Mar 2020

Emergency guidance in helping social workers to manage Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) cases during the COVID-19 crisis is to be produced by the government, with the aim to help practitioners to deal with the DoLS cases during this time of significant workforce shortages, severe pressures on hospitals and care homes and the challenges of managing cases while minimizing contact with people.

Surprisingly, the exclusion of DoLS from the emergency legislation introduced to deal with the impact of COVID-19 became the immerse pressures.

UK government recognized that they had to strike a careful balance between the need to protect some of the most vulnerable in our society by preventing the spread of the virus. They had decided not to alter deprivation of liberty safeguards in primary legislation. But they can achieve significant improvement in the process through emergency guidance by making clearer when a deprivation of liberty safeguards authorization is necessary and by making a phone or video call for an assessment.

The guidance on how video-conducted capacity assessments will be considered by judges. The assessor will need to make clear exactly what the basis of the assessment is, for example, video access, review of records, interviews with others, etc. If that evidence is sufficient or not, will be determined on a case by case basis.

Another option is telephone-based hearing. Hearing that are likely to take less than two hours will be held by telephone. For longer hearings, they will hold in principle by asking all participants to maintain a two-meter distance from each other.

Judges or legal advisers should visit the person who may lack capacity and when absolutely necessary. He encouraged to make video conferencing and telephone contact but discouraged visiting homes.


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