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Supporting health and social care providers in Devon

Mental health, mental capacity and drugs and alcohol

Last Updated 13:00pm, 21 July 2021


If you have any specific issues or questions that you would like to raise please do so as follows:

Supporting equitable uptake of the COVID-19 vaccination in people with Severe Mental Illness

People with Severe Mental Illness (SMI), who face reduced life expectancy of 15-20 years when compared to the general population, are included in priority group six to access the COVID-19 vaccination but may find it difficult to attend vaccination appointments. Some people with SMI may not know they are eligible so it is vital that we take an inclusive approach to ensure people with bipolar, schizophrenia and similar illnesses access their vaccination. For instance, people with an eating disorder (either a high or low BMI) or people with a diagnosis of personality disorder.

There is a suite of resources available to support equitable uptake of the COVID-19 vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccination videos to support people with mental illness

A series of short videos on COVID-19 vaccination to support and encourage people with severe mental illness (SMI) to get their COVID-19 vaccines have been developed by Public Health England, Equally Well UK and NHS England:

These videos provide useful information for people with SMI to know what to expect from the vaccination process and how to prepare before their appointments. They also provide information for primary care professionals to better support people with SMI in their areas.

Support groups permitted

Support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support but they must take place at a premises other than a private home.
Where a group includes someone covered by an exception (for example, someone who is working or volunteering), they are not generally counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means, for example a tradesperson can go into a household without breaching the limit if they are there for work, and the officiant at a wedding would not count towards the limit.
Please read the section on ‘Where and when you can meet in larger groups’ listed under the subheading ‘Support and Childcare bubbles‘ within the ‘National lockdown: Stay at Home’ guidance.

Guidance for commissioners and providers of services for people who use drugs or alcohol

New guidance has been issued for services and commissioners working with people using drugs and alcohol.

The Mental Capacity Amendment Act comes into force on 1 April 2022 and with that the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards  will be replaced by the Liberty Protection Safeguards.

These significant changes will impact on the way we all work, when considering whether a person is experiencing a deprivation of their liberty and how this will be authorised.

Remote Mental Capacity Assessments

The Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are still fully in effect and the government has issued guidance on the application of the MCA and DoLS during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Further guidance is available from the independent Mental Capacity Law and Policy website

Care homes are reminded that the local guidance relating to mental capacity assessments remains that assessments should be carried out by remote means wherever possible at this time. It may be appropriate for someone who is able to communicate directly with the person to assist with or carry out a capacity assessment.

Message from DCC Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Service

The current Coronavirus pandemic presents care home providers with considerable challenges, not least the expectation that the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), remain fully in force.
The Devon DoLS service is continuing to consider the issues and challenges and would wish to offer support and guidance to providers wherever we can, including the ongoing provision of our duty service which can be accessed via phone 01392 381676 and email

The emergency Coronavirus Act does not change our responsibilities in relation to the application of both the Mental Capacity Act and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards therefore, both still apply. The Government has published guidance for hospitals, care homes and supervisory bodies. Please see: Coronavirus (COVID-19): looking after people who lack mental capacity

You must always follow all Department of Health / public health guidance and contact Devon DoLS Service to advise of any additional significant restrictions’ individuals may be experiencing so that we can offer appropriate advice and support and consider if a review of a current Standard Authorisation is required.
Devon DoLS Service will follow government guidance and assessors will not visit care or nursing homes to undertake face to face assessments unless it is essential.  We will continue to undertake assessments remotely wherever possible and utilise appropriate technology to facilitate this.
Care home providers must, as far as possible, continue to follow the current process with regard to the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.

If you are of the view that an individual:- lacks mental capacity to make decisions about where they live or about their care and support, is under continuous supervision and control, and not free to leave, you should make an application for an Urgent and Standard Authorisation.

  • All new requests will be screened for priority in the usual way
  • The Managing Authority must notify the Supervisory Body of any increased restrictions placed on a person where a request for DoLS has been made and is waiting for assessment.
  • The Managing Authority must notify the Supervisory Body (Devon DoLS Service) of any increased restrictions to a person already subject to a Standard Authorisation so a review can be considered

We request that all applications and correspondence are sent to the service electronically at this time.
Remember any questions can be directed to or 01392 381676.

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