Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS) is part of the legislation covering the support and care of people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions on their care or treatment and have an impairment of the mind/brain (Mental Capacity Act 2005).

What is Deprivation of Liberty?

Some people who live in hospitals and care homes can’t make their own decisions about their care or treatment because they lack the mental capacity to do so. They need more care and protection than others, to ensure they don’t suffer harm which may mean restricting their freedom.

If there are a lot of restrictions like this, it may be that the person is being deprived of their liberty. Hospitals and care homes should always try to avoid this, but sometimes there is no alternative to deprive a person of their liberty because it is in their best interests.

Some examples are:

  • Restrictions have been imposed on a person which may be preventing the persons freedom of movement within the care home or hospital
  • Staff have complete control over the care and treatment of a person
  • Someone is not able to maintain social contacts because of restrictions placed on their seeing other people
  • Someone loses independence because they are under continuous supervision and control
  • Care or treatment has been imposed on a person to manage their behaviour and restrict their movement.

What is the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards?

If there is no alternative but to deprive such a person of their liberty, the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards say that a hospital or care home must apply to the Supervisory Body (council) for a Standard Authorisation under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Legislation. The Supervisory Body (Council) will arrange for a number of statutory assessments to be undertaken to assess the person concerned to see whether they:

  • Are deprived of their liberty
  • If the restrictions imposed by the care home or hospital come under the legislation and are lawful
  • If the restriction(s) imposed by the care home or hospital are essential to prevent the person from harm and whether the restrictions are in the persons best interests.

If the Supervisory Body (council) authorises a deprivation of liberty, this will be for a limited time (up to a maximum of 12 months) and they will put conditions in place to try and reduce the need for the restrictions to be continued to prevent the person being deprived of their liberty. They will also ensure that the person being deprived has a ‘representative’ who will keep in touch with the person, support them in all matters regarding the authorisation, and ask for a review of the authorisation when necessary. This representative could be a family member, a friend or a paid advocate.

Of course, sometimes a person’s family or friends might not agree with an authorisation. The Safeguards also allow people the right of appeal against a decision in a court of law.

What should I do if I feel a person is being deprived of their liberty?

Discuss the issue with the hospital or care home. They may be able to change a person’s care or treatment to ensure the person is not being deprived, or may be able to explain why a person is not actually deprived of their liberty.

Request that Wigan Council reviews the person, to see whether they are being deprived of their liberty. This request can be in writing, or by phone.

For care homes and hospitals: Making an application to deprive liberty

When a care home or hospital considers that there is no other option but to impose restrictions for care or treatment that may be depriving a person of their liberty which they believe are in the best interest of the person, the hospital or care home must apply for a Standard Authorisation to allow the restrictions, care or treatment to continue.

The care home or hospital to make an application will need to use the appropriate request form and send it by either (fax or recorded delivery mail or by secure email) together with all supporting evidence (care plan and risk management plan) to the MCA/DOLS Team.

The supervisory body will perform six assessments in order to determine whether the deprivation of liberty can be authorised. The supervisory body will also arrange for an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) to be involved, who will support the person and provide an independent opinion during the assessment process, which is also a statutory safeguard right for the person.

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