Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

Some people living in care homes, hospitals or supported living may not be able to make their own decisions. They may sometimes lack the capacity to consent to treatment or care and may need, in their own best interests, to be deprived of their liberty.

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

They provide a framework to make sure that a person is only deprived of their liberty under very specific conditions and only when it is in their best interests.

Who does this apply to?

A person must:

  • be aged 18 or over
  • have a mental health problem such as dementia or a learning disability
  • lack the capacity to consent to where their treatment and/or care is given
  • need to have their liberty taken away in their own best interests to protect them from harm

There is currently no definition of what a deprivation of liberty is but the following factors would be relevant:

  • if the person is not allowed to leave the care home or hospital
  • if they have no, or very limited, choice about their life within the care home or hospital
  • if they are prevented from maintaining contact with the world outside the care home or hospital

Any of these factors on their own may or may not amount to a deprivation of liberty; it will always depend on the individual facts of each case.

Care home or hospital responsibilities

Registered care homes or hospitals are legally required to obtain authorisation for someone to be deprived of their liberty.

If someone is at risk of being deprived of their liberty, or is already being deprived of their liberty, they must apply to the relevant supervisory body (the local authority for registered care homes and the primary care trusts for hospitals). These must then arrange an assessment of deprivation of liberty.

What should you do?

If you are a Barnet resident living in a care home and are at risk of being deprived of your liberty, or are already being deprived of your liberty, you can ask the registered manager of the home to refer you to our DoLS team for an assessment. 

Similarly, if you are a relative, friend or a registered care home manager and you are concerned about a resident in care, contact the DoLS team for advice and assistance.

  • For advice about deprivation of liberty call the Voicemail Advice Line on 07932 612 979

Making an application

To make an application please read this DoLS Guidance and complete the relevant forms:

Once we receive the application form and supporting documentation we will conduct six assessments in order to determine whether the deprivation of liberty can be authorised.

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