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Requests to lock up people with dementia hit record high

01-Nov-17
Article By: Angeline Albert

The number of applications to detain people with mental health issues, dementia or learning difficulties for their own safety has reached the highest level on record.

Credit: Shutterstock

The application process, known as Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), is used when patients who lack the mental capacity to consent need to be detained in a place like a care home or hospital.

New figures from NHS Digital indicated an 11 per cent rise in DoLS applications in England compared to last year.

Figures reached 217,235 during 2016/17, the highest since they were introduced in 2009. Meanwhile, thousands of applications have taken more than a year to be completed - despite the recommended time-frame of just three weeks.

DoLs are only used when it would be in the best interest of the person and a proper authorisation process must be in place to ensure it is done lawfully.

‘Left in limbo’ by over-stretched system

Gavin Terry, policy manager at dementia charity 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."

By 2021, one million people will be living with dementia. This will soar to two million by 2051.

Mr Terry added: “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.”

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