DHSC, 'The MCA and DOLS during the coronavirus pandemic: additional guidance' (updated 27/4/21)

MCA/DOLS coronavirus guidance The changes between the 12/1/21 guidance and this version are all under the heading "Continuing to carry out your role as a DoLS independent mental capacity advocate (IMCA) or relevant person’s representative (RPR)".

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Continuing to carry out your role as a DoLS independent mental capacity advocate (IMCA) or relevant person’s representative (RPR)

If you’re an IMCA or RPR (including an unpaid RPR), you should continue to represent and support the person who is or may be subject to the DoLS authorisation during the pandemic. Face-to-face visits by professionals, for example to represent and support the person, are an important part of the DoLS legal framework. These visits can occur if needed, for example to meet the person’s specific communication needs, in urgent cases or if there are concerns about the person’s human rights. To represent and support the person, remote techniques should be considered, such as telephone or video calls where appropriate to do so, and the person’s communication needs should be taken into consideration. Views should also be sought from those who are concerned for the person’s welfare. A national lockdown began in England on Wednesday, 6 January 2021 and national lockdown: stay at home guidance has been published detailing what you can and cannot do. During the national lockdown in England, visits by professionals can occur if needed. Decisions around visiting are operational decisions and ultimately for the providers and managers of individual care homes and hospitals to make. DoLS professionals should work closely with hospitals and care homes to decide if visiting in person is appropriate, and how to do this safely. Visiting professionals should understand and respect their local visiting policies, including for individual hospitals and care homes. The government’s policy for family and friends visits to care homes has recently been updated and contains practical advice about how to facilitate safe visits, which will also be useful for DoLS professionals.

Similarly, professionals in Wales are required to comply with any additional setting guidance or location specific guidance for Wales when considering professional DoLS visits.
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Continuing to carry out your role as a DoLS independent mental capacity advocate (IMCA) or relevant person’s representative (RPR)

If you’re an IMCA or RPR (including an unpaid RPR), you should continue to represent and support the person who is or may be subject to the DoLS authorisation during the pandemic. Face-to-face visits by professionals, for example for DoLS assessments, are an important part of the DoLS legal framework. These visits can occur when needed, for example to meet the person’s specific communication needs, in urgent cases or if there are concerns about the person’s human rights. To represent and support the person, remote techniques should be considered, such as telephone or video calls where appropriate to do so, and the person’s communication needs should be taken into consideration. Views should also be sought from those who are concerned for the person’s welfare. The government has published the COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021 setting out the roadmap out of the current lockdown for England, explaining how restrictions will be eased over time. Guidance on what you can and cannot do has been published reflecting the roadmap, which will also be updated as restrictions are eased. During and after the national restrictions in England, visits by professionals can occur when needed and should be supported wherever it is possible to do so safely. DoLS professionals should work closely with hospitals and care homes to decide if visiting in person is appropriate, and how to do this safely. Guidance on testing for professionals visiting care homes has been produced and should be used to support visiting to care homes The primary position of this guidance is that professionals and all staff visiting a care home should be tested in order to help reduce the risks. However, testing is only one part of the approach to reduce risk. It is critical that visiting professionals put on and take off personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriately and follow the relevant infection control measures when visiting a care home, including hand hygiene and distancing, in order to help keep care home residents and staff safe. Decisions around visiting are operational decisions and ultimately for the providers and managers of individual care homes and hospitals to make. If an individual has not been tested (or is unable to provide proof) and it is not possible to test prior to entry, the care home should make a risk-based decision regarding whether to permit entry, taking into account the reason and urgency of the visit. Visiting professionals should understand and respect their local visiting policies, including for individual hospitals and care homes. The government’s policy for family and friends visits to care homes has also recently been updated and contains practical advice about how to facilitate safe visits, which will also be useful for DoLS professionals. Similarly, professionals in Wales are required to comply with any additional setting guidance or location specific guidance for Wales when considering professional DoLS visits.

DoLS best interests assessors and mental health assessors should work collaboratively with hospital and care home staff. They should be mindful of their distinct, legal duties under DoLS.

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Type: Coronavirus resource🔍 · Health guidance🔍

Title: The Mental Capacity Act (2005) (MCA) and deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: additional guidance

Author: Department of Health and Social Care🔍

Date: 27/4/21🔍

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