Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

What are DoLS?

Some people living in care homes and hospitals can’t always make their own decisions because they lack the mental capacity to do so.  They need care and protection to ensure they don’t suffer harm.  Caring for people who need extra protection may mean restricting their freedom to the point of depriving them of their liberty, for example, preventing a person from leaving the care home or hospital to protect their safety.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides a legal framework for assessing whether a person has mental capacity to make certain decisions.  It also defines how others can make decisions on behalf of someone who lacks mental capacity.  These must be made in the best interests of the person.

Since April 2009, the Mental Capacity Act has provided a legal framework to ensure that people that lack capacity who are being deprived of their liberty are being done so lawfully. The deprivation will be lawful if authorised in accordance with the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and the person is resident in a care/nursing home or hospital.  Detention in another setting (e.g. supported living) can only be authorised by the Court of Protection.

Who does the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards apply to?

The deprivation of liberty safeguards apply to people:

  • Aged 18 years or over.
  • Who suffer from a mental disorder or disability of the mind – such as dementia or a profound learning disability.
  • Who lack capacity to consent to the arrangements made for their care or treatment but for whom receiving care or treatment in circumstances that amount to a deprivation of liberty may be necessary to protect them from harm.

They do not apply to people detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.

Why use the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards?

  • It is a legal requirement for hospitals and care homes to use Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards where a person’s care and treatment deprives them of their liberty.
  • Depriving someone of their liberty may be crucial to ensure they receive care and treatment necessary to prevent harm.
  • Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards ensure that any restrictions or limitations on a person’s freedom will be monitored and if appropriate, challenged.
  • Hospitals and care homes using the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards will need to review and reassess their practices to ensure that they are the least restrictive.
  • Staff in hospitals and care homes can be assured of legal protection for the actions they take to detain a person provided they work in accordance with the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.

Consideration must always be given to the least restrictive options for delivering care and treatment that avoid depriving someone of their liberty wherever possible.

How to apply for a Deprivation of Liberty authorisation from Knowsley Council.

Once the managing authority (the care home or hospital) has determined whether an urgent or standard authorisation is required, they must complete the relevant form/s which can be found on the ADASS website and email them to: [email protected].

If you wish to talk to a member of the DoLS team regarding an application that has been made you can ring 0151 443 2914 during normal office hours.

Useful resources

The following guides provide additional information:

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