Sharp rise in restraint used to deprive elders of freedom

The number of safeguarding applications which deprive old people of their freedom through the use of techniques such as restraint have seen a sharp rise.

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'Worrying lack of awareness' of restraint procedures

George McNamara, head of policy and public affairs at the Alzheimer's Society, said:

These findings point to a worrying lack of awareness and understanding of the use of DoLS.

It is unacceptable that the majority of care providers are not following correct procedure when using this measure.

Over half the applications were for someone with dementia and much more needs to be done across health and social care to ensure DoLS are better understood and implemented consistently, ensuring the best possible quality of care and support.

It is essential that the CQC continue to monitor its use to protect those most vulnerable in society.

Minister: Care home elderly 'deserve full protection'

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb pictured earlier this month in east London. Credit: PA

Care and support minister Norman Lamb said: "People in hospitals and care homes deserve to be fully protected at all times, particularly when they need to be deprived of their liberty in their own best interests.

"This increase shows that more assessments are being carried out when they should be to safeguard people and protect their rights.

"Yet there is a long way to go before these provisions are fully used.

"The bottom line is that to deprive someone who lacks capacity of their liberty without a DoLS in place is unlawful and needs to be treated extremely seriously."

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Dementia more than half of deprivation applications

Most applications and authorisations relate to older people with dementia living in care homes.

  • Dementia accounted for 53% of all applications in 2012/13, of which 59% were authorised.
  • The study said the number of applications has increased every year since the measures were introduced in 2009, though the rate of increase in 2012/13 was smaller than previous years.
  • There were 11,887 DoLS applications in 2012/13, a 4% increase on the 11,393 applications made in 2011/12.
  • The number of authorisations also increased, with 6,546 authorisations granted compared to 6,339 in 2011/12.

Two-thirds of care homes and hospitals 'break the law'

The report said two-thirds of care homes and hospitals who make applications break the law by failing to notify the CQC of outcomes or applications.

The CQC said this contrasted sharply with people aged 18 to 65 for which the rate has increased much less over the period and fell slightly last year.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, which apply in England and Wales, are intended to ensure that a care home or hospital only deprives someone of their liberty in a safe and correct way when they lack mental capacity.

They should only be applied when it is in the best interests of the person. Deprivation could include restraint, medication given against a patients will, staff having complete control over a patient's care or movements and staff making all decisions about a patient.

Sharp rise in restraint used to deprive elders of freedom

The number of safeguarding applications which deprive old people of their freedom through the use of techniques such as restraint have seen a sharp rise.

There has been an increase in the use of restraint. Credit: Angelika Warmuth/DPA/Press Association Images

A report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found a "sharp increase" in the number of applications from organisations such as care homes to deprive people aged 75 and over of their liberty.

For those aged 75 to 84, there was an 81% jump in the number of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) applications made between 2009/10 and 2012/13, from 71.2 per 100,000 to 128.6.

Among those aged 85 and over, the figure jumped 69%, from 156.6 per 100,000 to 265.3.

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