Safeguarding adult policy

How the law protects adults

4.1. Care Act 2014

The Care Act 2014 sets out a clear legal framework for local authorities and other statutory agencies on how to protect adults with care and support needs at risk of abuse or neglect. It encompasses the need for professionals to: prevent care needs becoming serious; inform and advise adults on making good decisions about their care and support; and also outlines the duty for professionals to cooperate with each other in order to protect adults. The Care Act 2014 is designed to transform adult social care by ensuring greater multi-agency collaboration as directed by the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Adults Board. This gives Hertfordshire County Council (as the local authority) responsibility for:

  • promoting individual well-being;
  • preventing needs for care and support;
  • promoting integration of care and support within health services;
  • providing information and advice;
  • promoting diversity and equality in provision of services.

As a partner of Hertfordshire County Council, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council must co-operate with Hertfordshire County Council with any enquiries they make into an adult at risk, where Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council is providing them with a service.

4.2. Mental Capacity Act 2005

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides a framework to empower and protect people who may lack capacity to make some decisions for themselves, or who have capacity and want to make preparations for a time when they may lack capacity in the future.

Someone who lacks capacity, due to an illness or disability (such as a mental health problem, dementia or a learning disability) may have one or more of the following issues:

 cannot understand information given to them in order to make a particular decision;

 cannot retain that information long enough to be able to make the decision;  cannot use or weigh up the information to make the decision;

 have difficulty in communicating their decision.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 defines who can take decisions, when they can take them and how they should go about it. This is regardless of whether it is a major decision such as those about personal finance, social care or medical treatment or an everyday decision, such as what an individual has to eat or wear. The underlying philosophy of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 is to ensure that those who lack capacity are empowered to make as many decisions for themselves as possible and that any decision made, or action taken, on their behalf is made in their best interests and protects them from harm. People may go through stages where they have capacity at particular points in time and then may lack capacity at other times depending on their circumstance. Some people may also have the capacity to make particular decisions in some areas of their life but not in others, for example being able to decide what to eat and wear but not being able to decide what medical treatment to take.

4.3. Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards 2008

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Deprivations of Liberty Safeguards (MCA DoLS) will protect people who need to be cared for in a restrictive way and cannot make decisions about their care or treatment. MCA DoLS must be used if people need to have their liberty taken away in order to receive care and/or treatment that is in their best interests and protects them from harm. The Government are currently reviewing the DoLS legislation, with an update to be provided in March 2016 (need to update this section).