Updated on 17/06/2020
At the moment, there are many restrictions on people’s lives which have been introduced to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
If someone you know is in a hospital or care home, you may worry that they’re experiencing even greater restrictions on their lives.
You may be concerned that this is unfair or feel that it’s having a negative impact on their health or quality of life. You may have been told you can’t go and visit them, and not have been able to have telephone contact. They may not be able to go outside, even for exercise.
Some people can’t make decisions about their care or treatment for themselves due to mental health conditions, brain injuries or other medical conditions. Others must then make decisions that are in their best interests on their behalf.
This also means that any restrictions on that person’s freedom must be in their best interests too. The restrictions must also be necessary to keep the person safe and should be properly authorised.
Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards
Human Rights laws make it clear that a person can’t be ‘deprived of their liberty’ unless in accordance with a legal procedure. For people in hospitals or care homes, this procedure is called the ‘Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards’.
If someone objects to restrictions on their freedom or if the restrictions aren’t properly authorised, there is a legal right to challenge them. You can access legal advice in relation to this. Any arrangements that become more restrictive should be reviewed even if they’ve previously been authorised.
The ‘Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards’ can only authorise restrictions that are relevant to someone’s care and living arrangements – they can’t restrict someone’s contact with their family.
Current government coronavirus guidance says that care homes should explore alternatives to in-person contact. This could mean having contact by video, or through the use of plastic or glass barriers. If a care home doesn’t let you contact your family member, you can ask them to explore these other options.
During the coronavirus pandemic, legal challenges of a person’s deprivation of liberty are still possible. If there is a dispute, Court of Protection judges can hear cases by telephone and video link if needed.
If you’re worried that you, or someone you know, are being unfairly restricted in a care home or hospital, our Court of Protection solicitors can help. We can challenge these restrictions and advise you about whether the proper processes are being followed.
Restrictions for people who lack mental capacity and are living in other settings also need to be authorised, just in a slightly different way. Our Court of Protection solicitors can also advise you about this.
Contact us online or call us on 0370 1500 100 to find out more.