Detention under S3 Mental Health Act 1983


Registered User
Jul 30, 2003
I wondered if anyone had any experience of their relative with dementia being sectioned under the MHA.

My father-in-law went into hospital voluntarily 3 weeks ago but has wanted to go home ever since he arrived. He went from being chilled out and on no meds to 4 different meds which, although prescribed 'as required', seem to be administered on a regular basis.

While I appreciate that it is necessary for the hospital to have a legal recourse to detain my father-in-law as he is too confused now to return home, I am concerned that under Section 3, which allows detention for up to 6 months, he can receive treatments which he would not ordinarily consent to.

I have been told that it is unusual for people with dementia to be sectioned under the MHA. I'd like to hear from other contributors and members what their eperiences have been.



Registered User
May 28, 2003
I know of 2 people with dementia that have been kept in hospital under section.
There are different reasons for doing this, especially as it may be against the families wishes, but primarily it will be best for the patient.
The patient will usually be monitored and assessed for a varying period of time, a week to several, before the team involved will make changes too, or experiment with medication. Which will then be monitored again, etc, until a suitable outcome is met.

It is very difficult when a loved one is kept in hospital, but it usually really is for the best. Its hard to see this when its someone from your own family, but when you are outside of the family, even though you can see the hurt to all concerned, one has to agree that it is for the best.
One has to accept that the aim of all concerned is to allow the patient to remain at home for as long as is possible, and if this means a relatively short stay in hospital, so that the patient can return with a better and more manageable quality of life, however wrong it seems, it will be for the best.

I speak personally and professionally with this advice.

You say medication that he would not ordinarily consent too? He does not have an ordinary illness.
If you have grave concerns then talk to the team involved. They should hold meetings, that you and your spouse should be able to attend to raise your concerns.


Registered User
Aug 18, 2003
east sussex

My dad was sectioned under the MHA 3 =3 years ago. This was the most difficult decision that I have ever had to make, as it was myself along with my brother and sister that had that action taken. We only did it for the sake of mum who was at her wits end - sleepless nights as he turned the house upside down - wandering off in the middle of the night as well as becoming very aggressive to mum. Sadly the only way we got action from the MH Team was to keep a diary of what Dad was up to. He was destroying Mum slowly to the point she was exhausted. No support helpwas available.
Dad spent 1 year in the hospital suffering several strokes that he sadly survived - Dad hated hospitals and i find it hard to forgive myself for putting in there.
After a long battle resorting to local MP's we got funding for him in an EMI nursing home - he is still there today living a life of a cabbage. Each visit for mum gets harder and i swear that i will never ever end up like him!!!
We nearly lost him in April, he caught a cold and got several ulcers - again we had to fight to get a pressure mattress as he is bedridden. What life has he got - i don't go to see dad, i go to see a skeleton/ cabbage to make sure they are caring for him properly!!!
But he's still my Dad and very occassionally a brief glimpse of him appears - last week a cup of tea a carer gave him had no sugar - i asked him how his tea was and for the first time in weeks he spoke so i could understand him "ruddy awful"
This sad soul destroying illness needs more research - Dad showed the first signs when he was 65 he's now 72 and how much longer has he to go? Not long i hope i want to remember dad as he was and as time goes on i find it harder and harder.

Busy Lizzie

Registered User
Feb 13, 2009
Detention Under S3 MHA

My husband has has on separate occasions been detained under section 2 and then 3 of the MHA because he either didnt want to stay in hospital or go to hospital. All his treatment was discussed with me. I had no cause for concern about the treatments offerred as he was in such an unhappy state that anything that gave him some peace was welcome. He was in no position to make rational judgements himself in my opinion, nevertheless he was given the opportunity to understand. This is important as comprehension is not easy to assess. The only good thing about section 3 is that you the person is entitled to free aftercare, whether in a care home or in their own home for the rest of their life in the case of someone diagnoesd as having dementia.
I cannot begin to tell you about the distress we sustained on the day he was detained and taken to hospital. However I now realise that I could not continue to manage him at home and it is a miracle I am still sane myself. Now I have a new role making sure he gets everything he needs from his nursing home.
I feel for you. This is a cruel disease in all its varios forms


Registered User
Mar 6, 2007
Wigan, Lancs
Hi Busy Lizzie,

This is quite an old thread, and the previous posters are no longer active on TP.

I have sent you a PM. :)


Account Closed
Jul 16, 2008
Hello, Busy Lizzie

You probably know that you've replied to a thread from 2003. Nothing wrong with that, it touched you. It touched me too.

It's possibly a thread that many of us haven't read for years now, if ever, but a few things jumped out and grabbed me by the throat.

Susan wrote back on 18 August 2003 :
But he's still my Dad
and then
for the first time in weeks he spoke so i could understand him "ruddy awful"
Busy Lizzie wrote 8 years on from the original thred:

This is a cruel disease in all its varios forms
Not a lot has changed since 2003, but still we are asking questions as to why nothing has changed. All still struggling with the same systems that don't seem to work in favour of those with dementia.

Thanks, Busy Lizzie, for making the connection from 2003 to 2011, and highlighting how not a lot has changed in all those years.

Just hope that you have since made a connection with decent support services for your husband and for you.