A timely article, considering the importance of mental health in the 2nd Amendment discussions.http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/13/vulnerable-kept-prisoner-mental-health-laws
Tens of thousands of the most vulnerable patients are effectively being kept prisoner in care homes and hospitals through misuse of mental health laws, a damning House of Lords investigation has found.
In the worst cases, safeguards aimed at protecting patients with a range of conditions are being used to oppress people and force decisions on them, peers said.
They found measures supposed to be used to look after at-risk patients – such as those with dementia who might get lost if they left their care home – were being used on a significant scale to deprive them wrongly of their liberty.
The House of Lords committee set up to investigate how mental health reforms introduced in 2005 are working said it was so concerned about deprivation of liberty safeguards that they should be scrapped and a new system drawn up from scratch.
The committee chairman, Lord Hardie, said: "We were very concerned by what we heard about the safeguards. The evidence suggests that tens of thousands of people are being deprived of their liberty without the protection of the law, and without the protection that parliament intended.
"Worse still, in some cases the safeguards are being wilfully used to oppress individuals and to force decisions upon them, regardless of what actions may be in their best interests.
"The criticism of the safeguards extended to the legislative provisions themselves; we were told the provisions were poorly drafted, overly complex and bureaucratic. A senior judge described the experience of trying to write a judgment on the safeguards as feeling 'as if you have been in a washing machine and spin dryer'. Even if implementation could be improved, the legislation itself is flawed.
"In the face of such criticism, the only option is to start again. The government needs to go back to the drawing board to draft replacement provisions that are easy to understand and implement, and in keeping with the style and ethos of the Mental Capacity Act."
The report highlights the case of Steven Neary, a man in his early 20s with autism and a severe learning disability, whose father asked Hillingdon council to provide some short-term respite care.
It said staff had found Neary's behaviour very challenging and were concerned about his return home, so it was agreed that he would stay in care for a couple of weeks.
The report adds: "In fact, the council had already decided that Neary should not be allowed to return home and kept him at the facility for nearly a year, including a period when he was subject to the deprivation of liberty safeguards.
During this time plans were made to send Neary to live permanently at a facility in Wales. The court of protection held that Neary had been unlawfully detained and ordered that he must return home to live with his father."
The safeguards are part of the wider Mental Capacity Act, drawn up to simplify how patients who lack capacity are dealt with and to "empower, protect and support" them.
More at link.
No one really knows what to do about mental health. Cutting family out of the loop is not exactly ideal though. When Grandad went downhill - he was pushing 100 at the time and could only recognize one member of our rather large family, my cousin (a nurse) who cared for him daily though he could not remember her name most of the time - respite care was suggested. We looked into it and it was a definite no. If he'd gone in, he'd not have come out again, and we were determined that he'd finish his time in the home that he'd lived in for 80 years.
It wound up in court. We won. He seemed happy enough, he had his chair and watched the horse racing every day.