Mrs S (89): DoLS example from practice

Mrs S (89) is a widow who lives alone. She has a diagnosis of vascular dementia. Her relatives noted that she was very independent and proud, and despite refusing support, managed in the community due to strict routines. One night, the police found her wandering in the street very confused and very cold, so they took her to a hospital where she was admitted to a medical assessment unit.

She banged the doors trying to get out, and assaulted nursing staff. She was diagnosed as suffering from an infection, and treatment with antibiotics was started. A mental health assessment concluded she was not detainable under the MHA and the managing authority gave itself an urgent DoLS authorisation and applied for a standard one.

The best interests assessor concluded that Mrs S did not have the mental capacity to make care, treatment and or risk decisions or decide where she should live at the present time.

The assessor recommended a short term DoLS authorisation, with conditions to enable medical and social care assessments to be concluded, and a best interests meeting to be arranged. The assessor anticipated that, following treatment for the infection, Mrs S’s confusion could lessen, leading to consideration of her returning home and the protection of her Article 8 rights.

Read more: Use of DoLS in hospitals