DoLS & Deputyships – A Tip for Prospective Deputies
Deprivation of Liberty Safeguarding orders (more commonly known as DoLS) have been commonplace in the lives of many elderly or vulnerable people since their inception in 2009. Their primary function is to assess whether a person can be kept safe without their liberty or freedoms being compromised, and if not, what necessary safeguards should be put in place. Families of people with compromised mental capacity in residential care will be familiar with DoLS authorisations approving the use of stairgates to safeguard their relative from a tumble, or keypad locking systems on doors to prevent residents from leaving their care home and coming to harm.
Less familiar however is the importance of considering a person’s DoLS position when applying to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship.
Selling Residential Property
Over the past 18 months, it has become more and more apparent that the Court of Protection are recognising the importance of Deprivation of Liberty when it comes to selling residential property.
It has become commonplace that the Court will not consider granting authority to a Deputy to sell a person’s home without first having knowledge or sight of any DoLS paperwork.
This however is understandable.
A person may move into a care home, and be eligible for a DoLS Order and indeed a Deputyship following a sudden traumatic incident, such as after suffering a stroke. They may need nursing care and a Deputyship in place while they recover, however the damage caused by the stroke may not be permanent, and the person may be rehabilitated. They may in the future be well enough that it is safe for them to return home.
It would therefore be a deprivation of the person’s liberty if, in the meantime, the Court granted the Deputy authority to sell the property. If there is no home to return to, the choice for the person to return there is of course taken away, and that liberty is deprived.
This why the Court of Protection now regularly ask for sight of the DoLS paperwork in order to clarify whether a person will or will not be able to, or even wish to, safely return to their previous residence in the future.
If a prospective Deputy is requesting authority to sell a person’s property as part of their Property and Financial Affairs application, it is therefore advisable to find out the person’s DoLS status, and whether it is indeed in the person’s best interests for their property to be sold.
If it can be shown that this is the case, providing the Court with a copy of the DoLS authorisation (also known as the DoLS Form 5) with your initial application could be invaluable and may reduce the length of time the Court take to consider the request for authority to sell the person’s property.