The number of applications made to deprive older people of their liberty has soared over the last few years, a new report shows.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) also found that about two-thirds of the care homes and hospitals seeking to deprive people of their freedom are acting illegally by failing to notify the organisation about the applications or their outcomes.
During 2009/10, 71.2 Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) applications were made per 100,000 people aged between 75 and 84, most related to those with dementia living in care homes.
By 2012/13, the rate had increased to 128.6 per 100,000, a rise of 81%, according to the CQC report.
The same period saw a 69% jump in the number of safeguarding applications for those aged 85 and above, from 156.6 to 265.3 per 100,000.
The CQC said organisations that failed to inform it of their applications were breaking the law
Among 18 to 65-year-olds the rate increased far less, with a slight fall last year, the report found.
Applications are intended to make sure organisations in England and Wales only deprives someone of their liberty when they lack mental capacity, if it is in their own best interests and if there is no other way to look after them.
They can result in people being restrained and given medication against their will and having their care and movement controlled by staff.
The CQC said organisations that failed to inform it of their applications were breaking the law and removing ‘an important element of protection’ for those subject to DoLS.
The commission said checks on the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act, which covers DoLS, would now become routine during care home and hospital inspections.
Age UK’s charity director, Caroline Abrahams, said: ‘We are pleased that the CQC is going to monitor the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act in care homes more closely from now on, because whenever the liberty of an older person is infringed they need to be protected by the law, but equally we do not want to see applications being made for Deprivation of Liberty Orders except when absolutely necessary.
‘A Deprivation of Liberty Order is an important check and balance but above all every older person has the right to good, dignified care, including those who lack mental capacity because of dementia or for other reasons.’