Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards
What are The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)?
The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are part of the Mental Capacity Act. They aim to make sure that people in care homes and hospitals are looked after in a way that does not inappropriately restrict their freedom. Or, if this is needed the correct monitoring and rights to appeal against the deprivation of liberty are maintained. The safeguards should ensure that a care home or hospital only deprives someone of their liberty in a safe and correct way, and that this is only done when it is in the best interests of the person and there is no other way to look after them.
Who is affected by The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)?
The safeguards apply to vulnerable people aged 18 or over who lack capacity to make decisions for themselves about their care or treatment and who are in hospitals and care homes. A person can still be deprived of their liberty outside of these settings but this has to be authorised by the Court of Protection and falls outside the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.
The Mental Capacity Act says that someone who lacks mental capacity cannot do one or more of the following four things:
- understand the information relevant to the decision, or
- retain that information, or
- use or weigh that information as part of the process of making the decision, or
- communicate the decision
Staff in care homes and hospitals should always try to care for a person in a way that does not deprive them of their liberty. If they are unable to do this, the registered manager of a care home or the NHS trust or authority that manages the hospital (the managing authority) is responsible for applying for an authorisation for the deprivation of liberty. The application for a standard authorisation will be made to the local authority (supervisory body). The supervisory body will arrange an assessment to decide whether the qualifying criteria for DoLS are met, and will either grant or refuse an authorisation.
In an emergency, the management of the hospital or care home may grant itself an urgent authorisation, but must apply for a standard authorisation at the same time. This urgent authorisation is usually valid for seven days, although the supervisory body may extend this for up to another seven days in some circumstances.