Expert urges care providers not to ‘accidentally impair’ vulnerable people’s rights

Care home managers, local authorities, and social workers across Cardiff are being urged not to “accidentally impair” the rights of vulnerable people by failing to follow best practice.

Amy Roberts-Rees, the head of the Court of Protection team at leading firm CJCH Solicitors, is calling on professionals across the city to ensure they are “up to date” with legislations and legal developments in order to provide the best care to at-risk people.

This comes after Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan councils earlier this year revealed that they were “struggling” to keep up with the number of referrals for deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS).

These come into effect when a person is unable to make decision surrounding their own welfare and require specialist supervision.

According to the councils, they were dealing with a backlog of over 800 outstanding assessments, after seeing DoLS referral number reach more than 2,500 between 2017/18.

In a bid to tackle this worrying upturn and ensure that vulnerable people are getting the correct initial assessment and care, Mrs Roberts-Rees hosted a Court of Protection conference at the Novotel Conference Centre in Cardiff.

The special event aimed to better inform care providers across the industry, including local authorities, social workers, solicitors, and mental health assessors, of the legislation in this area, and prevent incorrect referrals or potentially damaging intervention.

Mrs Roberts-Rees said she felt the event would help to make a “significant impact” in the welfare of thousands of people being cared for across south Wales.

She said:

“It is absolutely crucial that those working across the full spectrum of the social care industry are up to date on Court of Protection, DoLS legislation, and case law in this area.

“The law changes so quickly and so extensively that care providers can quickly become outdated and may not be providing the most effective standards within their organisations, which is not just detrimental for them, but the people they care for too.

“It is for this reason, that we felt a training day was essential to ensure the industry was fully updated on recent developments within the Court of Protection concerning a person’s deprivation in care home facilities and other general welfare matters.

“I think those who attended will really see the benefits of learning more about this, which will ultimately translate into better care for vulnerable people across south Wales.”

Mrs Roberts-Rees said the event also identified worrying trends surrounding a lack of proper implementation of the Mental Capacity Act in day to day practice.

She added:

“What we have learned is that some, not all, local authorities and health boards are failing to follow best practice to ensure that individuals’ rights are not being handled incorrectly.

“It is due to this worrying trend, that the event aimed to help professionals ensure there was careful care planning at all stages when supporting people who lack the capacity to make their own decisions.”