Deprivation of Liberties (DoLS) Safeguarding

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards is an addendum to the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

To meet the criteria of the safeguards a person must:

  • Be cared for in a hospital or care home; and
  • Be aged 18 or over;
  • Have a mental disorder, such as Dementia or a Learning Disability and not be liable for detention under the Mental Health Act 1983
  • Lack the capacity to consent to where their care is given
  • Need to be deprived of their liberty in their best interests to protect them from harm

The deprivation of a person’s liberty is a very serious matter and should not happen unless it is absolutely necessary. That is why the safeguards have been created: to ensure that any decision to deprive someone of their liberty is made following defined processes and in consultation with specific authorities.

Recognising Deprivation

There is currently no standard definition of deprivation of liberty, the code of practice says:

“to determine whether there has been a deprivation of liberty, the starting-point must be the specific situation of the individual concerned and account must be take of a whole range of factors arising in a particular case such as the type, duration, effects and manner of implementation of the measure of question. The distinction between a deprivation of, and restriction upon, liberty is merely one of degree or intensity and not one of nature or substance.”

When deciding whether someone may be deprived of their liberty, please refer to chapter two “What is deprivation of liberty” (page 16) within the DOLS Code of Practice (PDF, 492.84 KB). if you require further help please contact us.

How to refer if you feel a person is being deprived of their liberty

If you are a Managing Authority (Care Home or Hospital) and think you are already depriving someone of their Liberty you will need to complete Form 1 all pages and submit them to the relevant supervisory body. If you think that you will be depriving someone in the future, for example a new admission that has not yet arrived, complete and submit Form 1 excluding pages 6 and 7.

If you would like further help or guidance – either general or regarding relating to a specific care item – please contact us using the details provided.

If you are a friend or relative of someone you feel is being deprived of their liberty, firstly you would need to raise it with the relevant Managing authority (Hospital or Care Home) and ask them to refer; if they fail to do so please notify the relevant supervisory body in writing. (Standard letter appended for your use)

If you have any questions about the process or are unsure whether to make a referral please do not hesitate to contact the relevant supervisory body, if you don’t know which supervisory body is appropriate please contact us in the first instance.

Deprivation of Liberties (DoLS) Safeguarding was last updated on May 19, 2016.


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