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Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

What are Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The safeguards aim to make sure that people in care homes and hospitals are looked after in a way that does not inappropriately restrict their freedom.

The safeguards set out a process that hospitals and care homes must follow if they believe it is in the person’s best interests to deprive a person of their liberty, in order to provide a particular care plan. It is then the role of Walsall Adult Social Care to arrange for assessments to ensure the deprivation of liberty is in the person’s best interests.

In summary, the safeguards ensures:

  • that the arrangements are in the person’s best interest
  • the person is appointed someone to represent them
  • the person is given a legal right of appeal over the arrangements
  • the arrangements are reviewed and continue for no longer than necessary.

A recent court decision determined that a deprivation of liberty occurs when:

  • a person is under continuous supervision and control in a care home or hospital, and
  • is not free to leave, and
  • the person lacks capacity to consent to these arrangements.

Whether someone is deprived of their liberty depends on the person’s specific circumstances. A large restriction may sometimes in itself be a deprivation of liberty or sometimes a number of small restrictions added together will amount to a deprivation of liberty.  What needs to be assessed is the amount of control that the care home or hospital has over the person.

What’s new?

In March 2017, the Law Commission produced a proposal on a replacement for the DoLS and suggested amendments to the Mental Capacity Act itself. The changes to the act are to incorporate the new scheme, called the Liberty Protection Safeguards (LiPS), and to strengthen people’s rights in areas such as best interest decisions.

The new arrangements will apply to any health and social care setting, not just care homes and hospitals. For now it is business as usual until the new changes are passed through parliament.

For more information on the Mental Capacity Act or Liberty Protection Safeguards please visit Social Care Institute for Excellence

If you have a general query in relation to MCA/DoLS you can email the and the team will be happy to help or visit Walsall Council MCA/DOLS web pages for local information.

Deprivation of Liberty and 16-17 year olds (those aged 16 – 17 years)

For more information on mental capacity see our dedicated pages on mental capacity and safeguarding.