Mrs M: DoLS example from practice

Mrs M, who has dementia, was moved from her home to a care home as an emergency following the sudden death of her husband, who had cared for her. Since she was continuously asking to go home, and unable to comprehend her husband’s death, the care home gave itself an urgent authorisation, and applied for a standard one.

When the best interests assessor visited, he found that there was a deprivation of liberty, and that it was in Mrs M’s best interests to remain in the home in the short term while other options were explored: the authorisation was granted for four weeks. When this authorisation was about to expire, the assessor re-visited, and was very concerned to find that Mrs M had not settled, and had lost a considerable amount of weight. He discussed with the authoriser and with the care home manager his view that the ongoing deprivation of liberty was evidently not in Mrs M’s best interests since she was so unhappy, although no less restrictive options for her care had been identified.

The care home manager rang the authoriser to say she would have no authority to keep Mrs M safely at the home over the weekend if the authorisation was not granted. She felt it was impossibly risky to let Mrs M, who was extremely confused, return home to an empty house: she had found that Mrs M’s daughter was away for the weekend, and unable to return home immediately to care for her mother. The authoriser consulted with the assessor and the relevant service manager, who agreed to arrange a best interests meeting (to include Mrs M and her daughter) for the following week to explore how best to ascertain and meet Mrs M’s best interests. The assessor recommended a maximum length for a subsequent authorisation of a further three weeks, and the authoriser agreed.

Read more: Authorisers