The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), referred to as 'safeguards' are part of the Mental Capacity Act (2005). They aim to protect people in care homes and hospitals from being inappropriately deprived of their liberty. The safeguards have been put in place to make sure that a care home or hospital only restricts someone's liberty safely and correctly, and that this is done when there is no other way to take care of that person safely.

DoLS aims

The aim of the safeguards is to:

  • Make sure people can be given the care they need in the least restrictive way, this means following good practice in care homes and hospitals
  • Prevent decisions being made to suit the home or hopsital rather than the needs of the vulnerable person
  • Provide safeguards for vulnerable people
  • Provide the rights to challenge unlawful detention against the person's will

Who this applies to

The safeguards apply to vulnerable people aged 18 or over in hospitals and care homes 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 and appears to be in their best interests.

A large number of these people will be:-

  • people with significant learning disabilities
  • older people who have dementia or some similar disability
  • other neurological conditions (for example as a result of a brain injury)

Policies, procedures and guidance

Mental capacity act 2005 deprivation of liberty safeguards
DoLS roles and responsibilities

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards include the following roles and responsibilities:

  • Best Interest Assessor - an appropriately qualified and trained assessor who is responsible for co-ordinating the 6 assessments and deciding whether or not to authorise a Deprivation of Liberty
  • Court of Protection - this is the special court that deals with issues relating to people who lack capacity to make specific decisions. It is also the court that can hear appeals concerning Deprivation of Liberty
  • Managing Authority - this is the name for whoever has responsibility for managing the care home or hospital. It could be an individual, a company or an organisation. It is the managing authority who has to apply for an authorisation for Deprivation of Liberty.
  • Relevant Person - this is a person who is, or maybe become, deprived of their liberty
  • Relevant Person's Representative - this is the person appointed to keep in touch with the relevant person, and to represent them in all matters relating to the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. They can be a friend or family member of the relevant person, or an independent advocate. They must be independent from the care home or hospital (they must not be related to the manager or owner, or have any financial interest in the care home or hospital).
  • Supervising Authority - this is the local authority (for care and nursing homes) or the Primary Care Trust (for hospitals). They have responsibility for receiving requests for deprivation of liberty authorisations, arranging for the assessments to be carried out, and where appropriate, authorising deprivation of liberty.
Multi agency policy and procedure
Kirklees Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards pathway and forms
Checklist for managing authorities, care homes and hospitals
Supreme Court Judgement guidance
Administration of Covert Medication and Deprivation of Liberty

This guidance relates to the covert administration of medicines to individuals who are unable to give informed consent to treatment, and refuse to take tablets/capsules or liquid preparations when they are offered openly

Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA)

IMCAs are a legal safeguard for people who lack the capacity to make specific important decisions: including making decisions about where they live and about serious medical treatment options. IMCAs are mainly instructed to represent people where there is no one independent of services, such as a family member or friend, who is able to represent the person.

Relevant person's representative

Relevant Person's Representative is the person appointed to keep in touch with the relevant person, and to represent them in all matters relating to the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. They can be a friend or family member of the relevant person, or an independent advocate. They must be independent from the care home or hospital (they must not be related to the manager or owner, or have any financial interest in the care home or hospital).

The relevant person's representative can:

  • ask for a review if the person's situation changes, for example if they are feeling much better and their care is being changed, or if they have regained the ability to make decisions.
  • make a complaint if they don't feel that good practice is being followed
  • apply to the Court of Protection to check if the care being provided within the care home or hospital is legal or to challenge any decisions that have been made.
  • if an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) is involved, they can provide support with a review or with an application to the Court of Protection.
Inter-agency information sharing
DoLS training and development