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Supporting health and social care providers in Devon

Mental health, mental capacity and drugs and alcohol

Last Updated 14:00pm, 7 October 2021

Key COVID-19 information sources

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.

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.

Coronavirus message from Devon County Council Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Service

The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that:

“Following the lifting of restrictions on 19 July 2021, the Mental Capacity Act (2005) and deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic guidance has now been withdrawn. In spite of this, the care and treatment of people who may lack the relevant mental capacity remains of great importance and must always be guided by important principles of the MCA, which may in some cases include the utilisation of the safeguards provided by the DoLS. This was and is the case, before, during and after the pandemic.“

Please visit the Department of Health and Social Care website for more information on the MCA and DoLS.

The Devon DoLS Service will continue to support care homes, hospitals, individuals and their families, recognising the current coronavirus pandemic presents considerable challenges. We would wish to offer support and guidance, including the ongoing provision of our duty service, which can be accessed via phone 01392 381676 and email
We request that all applications and correspondence are sent to the service electronically at this time.

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