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DoL orders and "state detention"

Lyndam

Registered User
Nov 30, 2012
23
Northamptonshire
I have recently become aware that anyone in a care home who has a deprivation of liberty order (DoL) in place is deemed to be in "state detention" when they die. This means that their body will have to be taken to a morgue under police escort and formally identified by a relative - even though they may have been with them when they died. An inquest then takes place before the body can be released for burial - which could take weeks.
My father is in the later stages of dementia in a care home and I found out today (after asking) that he has had a DoL in place for 18months as he is not allowed out of the home unaccompanied. I knew nothing about the DoL despite my having Power of Attorney for his health and well being, though I knew he could not go out alone. The document had been completed by a Manager who has since left and was held in her office - not in his care plan.

I am horrified that this process may have to be gone through after my father's death - it must also apply to many other elderly people with dementia in care homes - Can anyone else share their experience or knowledge of this?
 

Kevinl

Registered User
Aug 24, 2013
4,771
Salford
I don't know if it's quite like you say exactly. The morgue is just the mortuary of your local hospital, the care home probably don't have the facilities to deal with a body so you can't have the local undertaker care for the body but I guess one fridge is much like another and you'd need time to organise and undertaker anyway. I never heard about the police escort bit, new one on me.
My mother died on the 30th of December so it was new year's eve by the time I left the hospital, as she died without having been admitted to a ward for the previous 24 hours the coroner had to be informed. Despite that it was new year's eve I had an interim death certificate by the 5th of January and could get the funeral sorted.
Normally if someone dies in a care home there isn't an issue but someone under a DOL order is in the care of the state much as someone in prison, police station, children's home or whatever so the state like to prove that anyone under their care who dies it's all above board.
My mother spent her last 24 hours in hospital, 16 on a trolley getting shunted round and the last 8 on a ward and that made it a coroners case, I understand if she'd been on the ward for 24 hours or had been admitted from a care home that wouldn't have happened but she came from my house so I guess they needed to check it all out.
Certainly I was never asked to identify her body nor was anyone else.
K
 

Pete R

Registered User
Jul 26, 2014
2,038
Staffs
Hi Lyndam,

If you have just found out about DOLS then you are not alone in feeling some trepidation about what it involves. However it is not all as scary as it seems.

A recent court case determined that if someone was restricted from being free to leave a care home for their own safety then they effectively being detained by the state. CH's then had to apply for a DOLS from the Local Authority for every individual. If they did not both the CH and the LA could be open to an allegation of "false imprisonment".

As with all people that die whilst being detained by the state the coroner has to be informed. There are authorised funeral directors that act for the coroner and will be called by the Police to transport the body. The Police only escort the body if they feel a chain of evidence has to be maintained (eg. death in prison/police custody or a crime has been committed.)

The coroner will ask the GP to provide the normal cause of death certificate. If they do then a full inquest is not required and a purely "paper" inquest follows and then the coroner can release the body for burial.

Unfortunately, as with anything involving the state or LA then this process may take a while.

There is currently a review of the process because of the time and cost involved but that will not report for a few years. So hopefully will have changed for the better by the time you need to deal with it.:)
 

CynthsDaugh

Registered User
May 5, 2015
139
Salford, Lancashire
Hi Lyndam,

I also don't think it would be exactly like that. Not quite the same but may help - My Uncle had severe learning difficulties and from age 5 lived in state care. When he died he had to be taken to the local hospital and the coroner informed purely because of his being in state care, to ensure that there was nothing untoward (which of course there wasn't). The whole process didn't take an awful lot longer that ususal - his funeral was about 3 weeks after he died. Also no-one had to go and identify him - not heard of that before.
 

Lyndam

Registered User
Nov 30, 2012
23
Northamptonshire
I don't know if it's quite like you say exactly. The morgue is just the mortuary of your local hospital, the care home probably don't have the facilities to deal with a body so you can't have the local undertaker care for the body but I guess one fridge is much like another and you'd need time to organise and undertaker anyway. I never heard about the police escort bit, new one on me.
My mother died on the 30th of December so it was new year's eve by the time I left the hospital, as she died without having been admitted to a ward for the previous 24 hours the coroner had to be informed. Despite that it was new year's eve I had an interim death certificate by the 5th of January and could get the funeral sorted.
Normally if someone dies in a care home there isn't an issue but someone under a DOL order is in the care of the state much as someone in prison, police station, children's home or whatever so the state like to prove that anyone under their care who dies it's all above board.
My mother spent her last 24 hours in hospital, 16 on a trolley getting shunted round and the last 8 on a ward and that made it a coroners case, I understand if she'd been on the ward for 24 hours or had been admitted from a care home that wouldn't have happened but she came from my house so I guess they needed to check it all out.
Certainly I was never asked to identify her body nor was anyone else.
K
Thank you for this reply Kevinl. It has reminded me that we cannot predict or control what happens to our loved one at the end of their life. Just do the best we can to prepare for the event. Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your mother
Lyndam
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
12,166
South coast
Thank you for your reply CynthsDaugh. It has made me feel much better. As I said in another reply, I think I have been upset by "shock horror" reporting in the media about DoLs and State detention - they are such scary sounding terms.
Lyndam
I think what you need to remember about DoLS is that it stands for Deprivation of Liberty Safegaurding. Its there to make sure that the deprivation of liberty is necessary and reasonable. Mum has a DoLS, as does every other resident of her home as it is a locked dementia unit. It was necessary for mum to go there as she was wandering during the night in just her night clothes and knocking on random neighbours doors in the wee small hours, so she needs to be kept safe.
 

Witzend

Registered User
Aug 29, 2007
4,291
SW London
I have recently become aware that anyone in a care home who has a deprivation of liberty order (DoL) in place is deemed to be in "state detention" when they die. This means that their body will have to be taken to a morgue under police escort and formally identified by a relative - even though they may have been with them when they died. An inquest then takes place before the body can be released for burial - which could take weeks.
My father is in the later stages of dementia in a care home and I found out today (after asking) that he has had a DoL in place for 18months as he is not allowed out of the home unaccompanied. I knew nothing about the DoL despite my having Power of Attorney for his health and well being, though I knew he could not go out alone. The document had been completed by a Manager who has since left and was held in her office - not in his care plan.

I am horrified that this process may have to be gone through after my father's death - it must also apply to many other elderly people with dementia in care homes - Can anyone else share their experience or knowledge of this?
My mother was in her CH for nearly 8 years, with advanced dementia for most of those. We were never officially informed of a DoL, but I am sure there must have been one since it has been the law for some time. Because she was self funded we had not involved social services when she went into the care home, but it would have been very quickly obvious to the staff that she badly needed 24/7 care.

However just a couple of months before she died, I was contacted by a social worker to say that she needed to be interviewed by by herself and a psychiatrist, to ensure that the DoL was necessary. By then my mother was very bad, quite incapable of any sort of conversation, so the idea of an 'interview' was a joke, but of course they had to do it anyway.

However, when she died barely 2 months later there was no question of any of the sort of procedure you describe. The undertakers came and took her away, and because we had a big family wedding coming up the funeral did not take place for 3 weeks - the undertakers kept her in their own facility and there was no question of a post mortem. The social worker actually rang me later to say that in her judgement and that of the psychiatrist, yes, the DoL was certainly necessary - she was mortified when I told her my mother had since died.
 

Lyndam

Registered User
Nov 30, 2012
23
Northamptonshire
Oh dear Witzend - what a shame your Mum had to be bothered like this at the end of her life - and you had the bother of the social worker's call - sometimes these procedures do seem to do more harm than good.
Lyndam