Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

  1. Basic introduction (You are here)
  2. Guidance for managing authorities
  3. DoLS authorisation – rights and responsibilities
  4. Further information

Basic introduction

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) is a legal procedure introduced in 2009 to provide protection for vulnerable people aged 18 or over accommodated in a hospital or care home who lack capacity to consent to their care or treatment, and are, or may become, deprived of their liberty.

The procedure involves having the arrangements independently assessed to ensure they are in the best interests of the individual concerned.

There is no simple definition of deprivation of liberty, however on 19th March 2014 the Supreme Court passed a judgement that states, a person is being deprived of their liberty if:

  • They lack capacity to consent to being accommodated in the place where the care and treatment is being provided
  • They are under continuous supervision and control
  • They are not free to leave the place they are in (to live where they may choose)

This is known as the ‘acid test’.

If a person meets the criteria under the acid test, the responsible care home or hospital must make a request for a DoLS authorisation from the local authority where the person is ordinarily resident, also known as the Supervisory Body, who will commission assessments and authorise the Deprivation of Liberty, if applicable.

Following the Supreme Court judgement there has been a significant increase in referrals for assessments and some requests for assessments may lapse outside of the statutory timescales.

If a deprivation of liberty occurs in a setting outside of a care home or hospital, the responsible organisation must make an application to the Court of Protection for this to be authorised.

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