Staffordshire County Council is making sure it carries out assessments quickly to ensure that people unable to make their own decisions are not held against their best interests in care homes, hospices and hospitals.
The number of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) applications nationally has soared in recent years following a legal test case and increased in Staffordshire from fewer than 300 a year in 2013/14 to more than 3,000 per annum currently.
In line with other local authorities, Staffordshire County Council makes an initial assessment of all requests, which come from hospitals and care homes, and then prioritises full assessments for the highest risk people.
Alan White, Deputy Leader of Staffordshire County Council and Cabinet member for Health, Care and Wellbeing, said:
Looking after those who need our help most is a key concern for this authority and we will continue to focus upon it, including investing additional one-off funding, to ensure those assessed as being at the highest risk are properly supported.”
The tenfold rise in the number of DoLS applications in England, prompted the Law Society to describe the system as ‘not fit for purpose’.
The Government has introduced legislation to deal with the problem, which is currently awaiting Royal Assent.
Staffordshire’s system of prioritisation was recently examined by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. The Ombudsman said the county council should have carried out a full assessment for every case, including lower risk ones, but has told the authority to carry on prioritising the highest risk cases until new legislation is introduced.
Gill Burnett, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet support member for Adult Safeguarding, said:
Like every other authority we had to adapt to a sudden shift in demand to ensure those most in need of support were still properly supported.
The Council will implement the new legislation once it has passed and in the interim plans to spend an extra £50,000 to make sure that full assessments are completed where necessary.”
Investing the extra money will be considered at the county council’s Cabinet meeting next week, when the Ombudsman’s report will also be considered.