Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS)
We see the role of the IMCA and the Appropriate Person as essential to the integrity of the system… circumstances where it would not be in a person’s best interests to have an IMCA would be very rare.
The new scheme to regulate deprivations of liberty could infringe people’s rights. A strong Code of Practice is essential.
About Liberty Protection Safeguards
Where care or treatment arrangements in a care home or hospital deprives a person of their liberty, and they lack the capacity to consent to those arrangements, a formal process is needed to ensure that their human right to liberty and security is protected.
The current process for this is called Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), but through the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019 it will soon be replaced with a scheme called Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS).
When LPS is implemented, it is estimated that over three hundred thousand assessments will be undertaken to decide whether and how to deprive people of their liberty in their own best interests each year in England and Wales. This often affects people with dementia, learning disabilities, brain injuries, and other long-term conditions as well as their families and carers.
Influencing the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act
Although the current DoLS system is deeply flawed, the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill, as it was originally published, would have made the situation far worse, weakening people’s rights and the protection of individual liberties.
This has now been improved in the final Act - thanks to an enormous amount of work by many people and organisations, peers and MPs. VoiceAbility played a leading role in securing major amendments to the Bill through its passage through parliament including by briefing parliamentarians, drafting amendments and providing case studies and raising awareness of the issues publicly.
We had particular success in securing the right to information for people who may be subject to deprivations of liberty, reducing the inappropriate role of the care home manager and defending people’s right to independent support through advocacy.
What we’re calling for now
The experience of people subject to Deprivations of Liberty, and their families and carers, remains central to the authority of our contribution to this policy area.
In the light of their experience, and the limited detail provided in the Act, we are calling on policy makers to resolve through the Code of Practice, in so far as is possible, the issues which have not been adequately addressed.
- providing guidance on what sort of ‘arrangements’ constitutes a deprivation of liberty
- providing criteria for appointing an Appropriate Person, ensuring their role and responsibilities are clearly explained in an accessible way
- giving a clear, understandable explanation on when to use the Mental Health Act and when to use the Liberty Protection Safeguards
In addition, we are calling on policy makers to
- revise the Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCA) Regulations to incorporate the role of the RPR within the IMCA role, provide greater clarity on when to challenge and add more emphasis on supported decision making
- collect data on statutory advocacy provision centrally, to support more accurate and effective commissioning of IMCAs to ensure that people get the support and representation they need and have a right to
What we’re doing
- influencing the planned implementation of the Act, including advising on the Code of Practice, and providing critical analysis to government on the Impact Assessment, regulations and training and workforce plans
- calling on the government to make sure they set a realistic new implementation date for these significant changes which allows adequate time for training and preparation
- raising awareness amongst disabled people and their carers about the changes the Liberty Protection Safeguards will bring, and supporting the public consultation on the regulations and the Code of Practice
- supporting practitioners to plan for implementation of the Act, including working together with other advocacy providers to ensure clear cross-sector understanding of the steps to take and their impact.
- advising commissioners and other key stakeholders on actions to take now to prepare for the new scheme
Please contact us if you would like support in preparing for the Liberty Protection Safeguards.
- local authorities have new responsibilities under LPS that must be fulfilled, and we can advise on this
- the LPS has wider criteria than the DoLS and we can advise on calculating the impact of this in your area and making plans to clear a backlog
- we can help with developing accessible information about LPS for the cared-for person and their family