Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards: A course for families

By Anna (daughter of a P)

I’m involved in a Court of Protection s 21A application concerning my mother and the origin of this case was a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) application.

So when I learnt about this course run by Edge Training specifically for family members of people in care homes and hospitals under DOLS, I was interested in finding out more. 

The day before the course (on 8th December 2022), I received an email containing the Zoom link and a copy of the pack of slides for the course. This proved to be very useful. I had a quick flick through them before the course but I also had the slides on my ipad during the course, which I accessed from my laptop, and of course they will be handy to refer back to in the future. I’ve attended a lot of courses where participants have asked whether the slides will be available afterwards, or I’ve had to take screen shots myself, so I appreciated being sent the slide pack in advance. 

I logged on a couple of minutes before the scheduled start time. Normally you sit in a waiting room but this time I was admitted straight away. I heard soft piano music and saw a couple of slides on rotation, informing participants to get in touch with the administrators if they couldn’t hear anything, or hadn’t received the slides, and information about how to ask questions. I could see other participants had joined too, although all cameras and microphones were off. Overall, I found registration and access to the course very efficient and organized, and helpful for participants. 

The course was led by Aasya Mughal, who started by introducing herself and Edge Training. She explained that Edge Training is a firm that provides legal training, particularly in the field of human rights issues, mainly concerning the health and social care sector but also for other organisations such as the police and the military. The trainers come from a range of professions and include judges, lawyers and social workers. Aasya is a barrister and director of Edge Training. 

I was quite surprised when, after her introduction, Aasya asked participants to introduce themselves and why they had wanted to attend. She stressed that the course was not being recorded and all personal details would be confidential, and she made it clear that people should only speak about what they felt comfortable saying. There were only six participants, and the course is always capped at 20, so this ‘personal’ approach is always possible. Everyone introduced themselves and most people put their cameras on to do this. This set the tone for the course, as it was quite interactive. Aasya encouraged participants to ask questions either through the chat or through raising a virtual hand (cameras stayed off whilst Aasya was going through the slides), and she mostly answered them as they came in. This approach was an alternative to going through all the slides and then having questions at the end, and it worked quite well as it meant the questions were relevant to the information on the slides.  

The content of the course was very informative. It covered the legal background to DoLS, some relevant statistics, what it is and who is concerned, the process, different types, criteria, the role of different professionals, protection and rights for those under DoLS, what can happen if procedures are not followed correctly and some other interesting legal information. 

The content could have been difficult to follow for us lay people attending, but Aasya explained it all in a very easy-to-understand way. And she took the time to explain anything that anybody said they didn’t understand. She made it very accessible. 

From my perspective, I also feel that what added to the value of the course was participants sharing experiences and stories, and in this way, we could learn from each other. This wasn’t “overdone”, it was mainly Aasya talking, and it was done in a safe way so that everybody only said things that they felt comfortable saying. This aspect of the course is dependent on the people who attend, but Aasya’s manner certainly helped:  nobody felt pressurized to speak. Some people had positive experiences of the DoLS process and some more negative and it was helpful to discover different perspectives. 

One thing I came away with is that (as I’ve experienced with my mother) families can feel at sea in relation to DOLS and unsupported. The more knowledge gained, the better the ability to navigate the process. This course would be really beneficial to family members whose loved ones are subject to, or likely to be subject to, a DoLS authorization. Most of the participants on this course were a certain distance along the path but it would definitely be useful for people at the start of the process as well. Aasya answered individual questions where possible or pointed people in the right direction to find out more. 

Aasya explained that more courses for families, like this one, would be run if there is enough interest. I for one would thoroughly recommend it for relevant families and I wish I’d had the opportunity to attend it earlier, at the time when my mum first became subject to a DoLS authorization. It would certainly have helped me to understand the whole process and its implications much more. There are still certain aspects that I don’t fully understand but this was not a bespoke consultation for me and I learnt a lot in a short time. I would encourage any families seeking to understand DoLS more to attend future courses. 

The next course is on 20th June 2023 at 2-5pm and there are free DoLS Rights resources if you need information before then (click here). 

Anna is the daughter of a woman who is currently a P in a Court of Protection s.21A application.  She’s not using her real name because she wishes to protect her mother’s privacy, while also hoping that other families can benefit from reading about her family’s experience.  Anna has also observed and blogged about a number of s.21A hearings as a way of learning more, e.g. Accessing a Court of Protection hearing as an observer and A section 21A hearing: Impressions from a veteran observer and the daughter of (a different) P in a s.21A case

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