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Deprivation of liberty safeguarding (DoLS)

Apply online

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards is an addendum to the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

What are the criteria?

A person must be eligible under all of the following:

  • Be cared for in a hospital or care home.
  • Be aged 18 or over.
  • Have a mental disorder, such as dementia or a learning disability and not be liable for detention under the Mental Health Act 1983.
  • Lack the capacity to consent to where their care is given.
  • Need to be deprived of their liberty in their best interests to protect them from harm.

The deprivation of a person’s liberty is a very serious matter and should not happen unless it is absolutely necessary. That is why the safeguards have been created.

They ensure that any decision to deprive someone of their liberty is made following defined processes and in consultation with family members and professionals.

Recognising deprivation

There is currently no standard definition of deprivation of liberty, the code of practice says:

“to determine whether there has been a deprivation of liberty, the starting-point must be the specific situation of the individual concerned and account must be take of a whole range of factors arising in a particular case such as the type, duration, effects and manner of implementation of the measure of question. The distinction between a deprivation of, and restriction upon, liberty is merely one of degree or intensity and not one of nature or substance.”

How to make a referral

Use the apply online button at the top of the page. 

Managing authorities 

If you are a managing authority (care home or hospital) and think you are already depriving someone of their liberty you will need to fully complete the DoLS request for a standard authorisation and urgent authorisation application form .

If you think that you will be depriving someone in the future, for example a new admission that has not yet arrived, you would only need to complete and submit the request for a standard application form.

Friends and relatives

If you are a friend or relative of someone you feel is being deprived of their liberty, firstly you would need to raise it with the relevant managing authority (hospital or care home) and ask them to refer the person.

If they fail to do so please notify the relevant supervisory body in writing.

Contact us

If you would like further help or guidance, general advice or if you are unsure whether to make a referral please do not hesitate to contact the DoLS team on:

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