LEGAL EAGLE: Right to challenge detention
The week May 15 to 21 marks Dementia Awareness Week. The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language.
Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or a series of strokes.
It was predicted there would be around 850,000 people in the UK with dementia in 2015. It mainly affects people over the age of 65 (one in 14 people in this age group have dementia).
However, it can also affect younger people; there are more than 40,000 people in the UK under 65 with dementia. Two thirds live in the community while one third live in a care home.
In specific situations people with dementia can be deprived of their liberty. This means that someone can be kept on a locked ward or in a locked room, is not free to go anywhere without permission or close supervision, and is usually under continuous control and supervision.
This is against the law unless it is done under the rules set out in the Mental Capacity Act.
The Deprivation of Liberty safeguards exist to protect the rights of people in care homes and hospital who lack capacity to make certain decisions about themselves.
They are an important safeguard to ensure vulnerable people are treated and cared for with dignity and respect and as far as possible in line with their own wishes.
The safeguards were introduced in 2009. Following a significant legal case in 2014 the use of the safeguards increased tenfold from 13,715 in the year ending March 2014 to 137,540 in the year ending March 2015.
If you are living at home, you can also be deprived of your liberty lawfully if the Court of Protection makes an order allowing it.
Occasionally, a person with dementia may behave in such a way that it puts their health and safety or other people at risk.
If this occurs, it may be necessary for the person to be hospitalised while an assessment of their mental health or appropriate treatment takes place.
The person with dementia can voluntarily attend in-patient hospital treatment if they have capacity to consent to admission, or can be compulsorily detained under a section of the Mental Health Act 1983.
Ben Hoare Bell LLP regularly advise people detained in hospitals and care homes, and their families, should they wish to challenge their detention in either the Mental Health Tribunal or the Court of Protection.
Further information can be found at www.alzheimers.org.uk