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Deprivation of liberty can never be ‘normal’

Defining normality by comparing a disabled person 
with someone in a similar situation is a questionable approach, says David Hewitt

21 May 2012

“It was the fourth of July yesterday and Phillip wanted us to go up on the roof of the barn and watch the fireworks... So we all climbed the ladder, and he carried the girls up one at a time. Alice is four and Grace is already one and walking everywhere she can. She is always on the go. She is saying words like ‘dada’ and ‘mum’. It is a warm night outside. The stars are shining and the moon is a crescent in the sky above me.”

I want to say something about the idea of ‘normality’ and the way its use can deprive people of protection they would otherwise have enjoyed.

Where someone who lacks capacity is confined to a hospital or care home in their own best interests, they may be eligible for the deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS). These ensure that the case receives independent scrutiny, and they give the person concerned a right of legal challenge (see ‘Purpose alone ca...

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