Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards: what determines the judgements of Best Interests Assessors? A factorial survey

Carpenter J, Langan J, Patsios D, Jepson M

Journal of Social Work 14, 6: 576—593

Available online 12 Sep 2013


The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards were introduced in England and Wales to protect the interests of people with learning disabilities, dementia and neurological conditions resident in hospitals and care homes. The Safeguards apply when residents lack capacity to make decisions about their care and treatment in circumstances that may amount to a deprivation of their liberty. Best Interests Assessors must establish whether a deprivation of liberty has occurred. However, there is no definition in statute; instead, the identification of factors which define a deprivation of liberty is evolving through case law. A factorial survey was used to identify the factors which influenced the professional judgements of 93 Best Interests Assessors (three-quarters social workers) who generated 798 responses to randomly generated vignettes.