Mr J (23): DoLS example from practice

Mr J (23) has learning disabilities and Asperger’s syndrome, with behavioural difficulties including aggression when frustrated or anxious.  

He was admitted in an emergency to a local residential care home, after a violent incident at home connected both to his problems and to his mother’s mental health issues and substance abuse. The local unit was unable to manage his behaviour, so he was placed in a specialist home 50 miles away. 

He lacked capacity at this time to consent to arrangements made by the home for his care. The staff in the unit brought him back in his pyjamas from several attempts to go home at bedtime, when he was missing his mum, and additionally refused to allow his mother to visit. 

The unit gave itself an urgent authorisation and requested a standard one. The best interests assessor identified breaches of Article 5 and Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and decided that Mr J had been deprived of his liberty. She found the level of restriction to be disproportionate to the risk and seriousness of harm to Mr J and decided that this deprivation of liberty could not be authorised as it stood. She informed the commissioners of the service that a serious dispute between Mr J’s mother and the unit should be mediated and, if intractable, referred rapidly, by the local authority, to the Court of Protection.

A formal best interests meeting was convened urgently. As part of this, contact between Mr J and his mother was reinstated, including facilitating visits from his mother to the care home. These visits were successful. A care plan was agreed that worked towards moving Mr J into a supported living setting, close to his mother’s home. Care staff are now working to give him increased daily living skills and Mr J is no longer deprived of his liberty, but looking forward to a more independent lifestyle.

Read more: Supervisory bodies: DoLS roles and responsibilities