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Putting Someone in a Care Home Against Their Will

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

In a recent blog post, we discussed how to navigate the logistics of moving an elderly parent into a care home. This process can be complicated enough on its own – but what we didn’t cover is the even trickier issue of putting someone in a care home against their will.

An older person’s care needs or ability to care for themself can decrease as they grow older, and sometimes they reach a point where, sadly, they’re no longer safe in their own home. Yet many older people don’t want to leave their own homes, and older people with dementia may not be able to understand the severity of their own situation.

It's hard to know what’s best when your loved one is a vulnerable senior or dementia patient refusing to go into care. UK law, however, recognises that there are times when a person is safest in a care home, even though they may not want to go there.

So, what can you do if you feel your elderly loved one needs the protection of a care or nursing home, but they don’t want to move? Read on for some guidance on navigating this tough scenario.

Care needs assessment

When a move to a care home is on the table, the best place to start is often a care needs assessment through the older person’s local council. This assessment determines not only whether or not the person needs to move to a care home, but what types and level of care they need. That’s important since nursing homes provide medical care via nurses available 24/7, while care homes don’t always have nurses at hand. You’ll want to ensure that your older loved one receives the right kind of care for them.

If the care needs assessment determines that the older person is best served by a move to a care home, then you already have social services on your side, and they may be able to advise you as to how you can proceed.

One major factor that will determine what you can do next is…

Does your older loved one have the mental capacity to make decisions?

When you’re struggling with the necessity of putting someone in a care home against their will, the first thing to ask yourself is whether or not your elderly relative has the mental capacity to make their own decisions.

For example, a person with advanced dementia or who has suffered a severe stroke may be unable to understand their own situation and make a judgement about it, so the person is said to lack “mental capacity.” Fortunately, there are legal ways to help a dementia patient refusing to go into care. UK law allows someone else to make decisions in place of the person who doesn’t have mental capacity.

If you think an older person might not have the mental capacity to make decisions about their care and safety, you could get in touch with their doctor’s office or a social worker to ask about an assessment in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act.

If an older person who doesn’t have mental capacity now appointed someone with lasting power of attorney (LPA) while they still had mental capacity, that person can make decisions for them after they’ve lost mental capacity. That’s why it’s a very good idea for older people who are in early stages of dementia to make an LPA while they have the capacity to do so. If, later on, their family is faced with a dementia patient refusing to go into care, UK law makes it easier for the person with lasting power of attorney to authorise a move to a care home.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

If a person needs to be kept in a care home when they wish to leave, the care home will work through the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, or DoLS. An addition to the Mental Capacity Act, DoLS is a process for determining whether it’s okay to force the older person to remain somewhere against their will. The local authority then authorises the older person’s deprivation of liberty.

Ultimately, if there’s disagreement about whether a person should move to a care home, it may be necessary to apply to the Court of Protection. A care home or social worker should be able to guide you about this process.

A note: although the government has discussed replacing the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards with a new process called Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS), this hasn’t happened yet.

What if an older person does have mental capacity but refuses to move to a care home?

Putting someone in a care home against their will if they do have mental capacity is more difficult.

Still, this may be necessary if, for example, an older person simply has very significant care needs that can’t be done in the home. For example, perhaps they are unable to leave their bed and need assistance with every aspect of living.

In this case, again, it’s likely best to start by contacting the older person’s GP or asking for a care needs assessment from the council. If an older person is unable to care for themself and therefore is a danger to their own wellbeing, the council may take action to move the person to a care or nursing home against their will, including potentially applying to the Court of Protection.

What if the older person doesn’t have such high care needs, but they are still really struggling to care for themself appropriately in their home?

Here, it may be best to try to persuade the older person to try care outside of their home for shorter periods of time. Perhaps they can try a day centre for the elderly, which involves a lighter level of care during the day but may even provide help for older people with dementia. It may also be possible for your older relative to stay for a short time in a care home. Ideally, they’ll enjoy this experience and be more open to a permanent move.

The older person might also want to try a move to supported housing or assisted living, which provide more care than living alone, although less than a care home.

Other ways of protecting seniors who refuse to move to a care home

If your older loved one absolutely refuses to leave their home, but they have mental capacity and there is nothing that can be legally done to make them move, you can try to ensure their safety through a combination of in-home care, home modifications and technology. For example, you could ask them to agree to have a camera placed in a kitchen or living area so that you can check on them.

Personal alarms for the elderly can also provide peace of mind. If you’re concerned that your older relative will fall when there’s no-one around to notice, a fall detection alarm can ease this worry. These alarms automatically sense when their wearer has fallen and make a call to either you or a 24/7 response centre. This means that even if the older person is unconscious or otherwise unable to do anything to seek help, assistance will still be on the way no matter what. When your older loved one has conditions like arthritis that can affect stability, or if they have high blood pressure that puts them at risk of heart attack or stroke, this type of alarm can help take weight off your mind.

A one-touch alarm can also offer reassurance, since it allows an older person to call for help while a phone isn’t nearby. Just one touch of a button summons help – and with a talking pendant alarm, the elderly person can even speak directly through the pendant to explain what’s wrong.

If you’re worried about a person in the early stages of dementia getting lost outside their home, there’s an alarm for that too. A mobile alarm with GPS allows you to track the wearer’s location and even place a geo-fence that alerts you when the wearer has left a predetermined area. In other words, if they leave their neighbourhood, the alarm can let you know.

Learn more about how SureSafe alarms can help protect the elderly

Unfortunately, putting someone in a care home against their will isn’t always possible, even if you’re really concerned about their wellbeing while they’re alone. However, an elderly personal alarm can help provide some peace of mind for vulnerable older people and their families.

At SureSafe, we’re experts in personal alarms for the elderly, and we’re happy to talk about how our highly reviewed and easy-to-use alarms could offer some reassurance for you or your older loved one. Just give us a call on 0800 112 3201, reach out to us through our live chat, or request a call back.

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