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New Mental Capacity Act law to ‘protect vulnerable in care’

A new law to protect the interests of vulnerable people in care is expected to be in place early next year.

The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill will replace the current system known as ‘Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards’ (DoLs).

DoLs are assessments currently carried out on people who do not have the mental capacity to make their own decisions about their care, for example because they are living with dementia. It was criticised by a 2017 Law Commission review for being too complex and bureaucratic.

The government has now developed a new system, known as ‘Liberty Protection Safeguards’.

The reforms seek to:

• introduce a simpler process that involves families more and gives swifter access to assessments
• be less burdensome on people, carers, families and local authorities
• allow the NHS, rather than local authorities, to make decisions about their patients, allowing a more efficient and clearly accountable process
• consider restrictions of people’s liberties as part of their overall care package
• get rid of repeat assessments and authorisations when someone moves between a care home, hospital and ambulance as part of their treatment.

It’s claimed the reforms will save local authorities an estimated £200m or more a year.

Many people dread losing the capacity to make decisions for themselves as they get older. One of the best ways to protect yourself in the future is to set up a lasting power of attorney (LPA) now while you are still fit and active.

LPAs enable you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you lose mental capacity.

The property and finance LPA allows you to appoint someone to look after your financial affairs and the personal welfare LPA lets you grant an attorney authority over such matters as health care and the kind of treatment you receive.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or lasting powers of attorney.

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