Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

If you are a professional organisation looking for information, forms and letter templates - please go to the DoLS page in the council information section.

What are the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards?

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) provide additional protection for adults living in care homes or in hospitals who do not have the capacity to make decisions for themselves about their care or treatment and are not safeguarded by the Mental Health Act or the Court of Protection.

Sometimes we have to place restrictions on people for their own safety. There are different levels of restriction ranging for example, from a locked door to physical restraint. At some point the degree and intensity of these restrictions become what is legally known as a deprivation of liberty.

Therefore, when a person needs to be deprived of their liberty there must be safeguards in place that will ensure that:

  • it is in the person’s best interests;
  • they have representatives and rights of appeal;
  • the deprivation of liberty is regularly reviewed and monitored.

There is a legal requirement under DoLS for the managing authority (the care home or hospital) to apply to the supervisory body, which is Slough Borough Council, for a person to be assessed where they believe that they need to be deprived of their liberty for a course of treatment or to prevent them from harm.

The supervisory body arranges for a team of assessors to complete six separate assessments to ensure it is in the person’s best interests.

Only if all six assessments agree will deprivation of liberty be granted and even then only for the minimum time limit necessary (DoLS cannot be authorised for longer than 12 months).

If the authorisation is declined the managing authority must find alternative, less restrictive ways, to carry out the treatment or care.

Who do DoLS apply to?

DoLS only apply if the person:

  • is at least 18 years old
  • is accommodated in a hospital or care home
  • has a disorder of the brain—usually dementia or severe learning difficulties
  • lacks capacity to consent for treatment or care arrangements
  • and will be deprived of their liberty but the treatment or care is necessary to protect them from harm and is in their best interests.

What are the six assessments?

The assessments which must be completed are:

  • age assessment (must be 18 or over)
  • mental health assessment (must have a mental disorder)
  • mental capacity assessment (must lack capacity) 
  • 'no refusals' assessment (has an advance decision been made regarding treatment?)
  • eligibility assessment (relates to a person’s status under the Mental Health Act)
  • best interests assessment (decides if deprivation is occurring and sets conditions for the deprivation).

Further protection

Every person who is the subject of a DoLS application must have a representative who will support them in all matters relating to the deprivation.

This person will be independent of the care home or hospital and can be a relative or friend who is prepared to act in this capacity.

If no representative can be found then the supervisory body will arrange for a paid representative to be appointed to the role.

What to do if you think a person is being deprived of their liberty

If you feel someone is being deprived of their liberty, you should initially discuss your concerns with the managing authority - the care home or hospital. They may be able to change the treatment or care so that the person is not deprived of their liberty.

If you are not satisfied with their response you can contact the supervisory body to ask for a review.

Contact the DoLS administrator:

Useful publications: