Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) is included within the Mental Capacity Act (MCA). DoLS are a set of checks that protect adults who are detained by a care home or hospital, to make sure the decision is in their best interest, is the least restrictive option and only when the adult lacks mental capacity.
DoLS only apply to people in hospitals and care homes.
DoLS has a wide definition, but as an example it may apply to a person with dementia who lives in a care home. The care home may decide their routine for them and not let them leave. If a hospital or care home plans to do this they must follow the strict rules set out in the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS).
A DoL occurs when:
‘The person is under continuous supervision and control and is not free to leave, and the persons lacks mental capacity to consent to these arrangements’
A person is considered to have mental capacity (the ability to make their own decisions) if they are
- able to take in information,
- retain it, and
- make decisions based on this information.
Everyone is presumed to have mental capacity, and it is the responsibility of the care giver to assess whether or not a person lacks mental capacity; it cannot be assumed that mental capacity is lacking due to illness. For more information about mental capacity, visit the Mental Capacity Act page.
The local authority is responsible for authorising all DoLS applications, in this case it is Thurrock Council.
How are decisions on deprivation of liberty made?
It is the responsibility of the hospital or care home to determine whether or not a person will be deprived of their liberty.
Thurrock Council will ensure that the adult has appropriate representation to ensure that their best interests are put forward. This may be a relative, friend, carer or Independent Mental Capacity Advocate.
A form will be sent to the Council who then have 21 days to determine whether a person should be deprived of their liberty. If any of the conditions under the DoLS are not met, the Council will refuse the application. The hospital and care home will then need to find a less restrictive way to support the adult.
In situations where a person may need to be deprived of their liberty before the Council can respond, the hospital or care home can deprive liberty using an urgent authorisation. This allows the care provider to deprive an adult of their liberty for up to seven days; however, the Council must be informed and the hospital or care home must apply for a standard authorisation.
Urgent authorisations should only be used in exceptional circumstances.
Professionals, if you are unsure – contact the MCA and DoLS Manager for advice:
Call: 01375 659810