Adult Social Care 2017 LocalGovernmentLawyer 4 Local Government Lawyer’s exclusive survey of 56 adult social care lawyers saw more than three quarters (77%) reporting a heightened risk to councils’ reputations, while three fifths (63%) said legal risks had grown. As part of this research project, we examined the reasons for this, seeking practitioners’ views on a range of issues including the impact of the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Cheshire West and Chester Council v P  UKSC 19, the implementation of the Care Act 2014, the push to join up adult social care and health, and the role of the Local Government Ombudsman in social care complaints. We also looked at the success – or otherwise – of councils’ responses to these pressures. Acid tests: the impact of Cheshire West Turning first to the Cheshire West ruling, the outcome of which was that far more people were recognised to be subject to the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) than previously thought, two thirds of respondents (67%) reported that the number of applications made to court by their local authority had increased by more than 100% as a result. A further 15% estimated that the increase was in the order of 75-100%, and 11% by 25-75%. Significantly, a small number (7%) suggested that the number of applications made had increased by less than 25%. These findings complement data published by NHS Digital, which reported in September last year that councils had received nearly 200,000 DoLS applications from hospitals and care homes in 2015/16 but also that there were variations between regions. So what approaches are councils taking to cope with this upsurge? Many respondents said their authorities had reviewed their cases and then sought to prioritise the highest risk ones for applications to court. Other strategies to find favour include establishing dedicated teams, ensuring the guidance produced by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) is followed, delivering additional training and briefings for social workers, and producing ‘decision support tools’. Some authorities have diverted resources from other areas for this work, but of course this leaves a question mark over what the impact has been on those other areas. However, not every adult social care lawyer was sure that the response to Calculated risks The reputational and legal risks to councils in the field of adult social care law have grown, research by Local Government Lawyer in association with LexisNexis has found. Not every adult social care lawyer was sure that the response to Cheshire West – whether by councils or the court – had been successful.