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Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) exists to safeguard individuals when a deprivation of liberty is an unavoidable part of a best interests care plan. Individuals who are identified as potentially deprived of their liberty must be considered on a case-by-case basis and all appropriate steps taken to remove the risk of a deprivation of liberty where possible.

DoLS provide legal protection for those vulnerable people who are, or may become, deprived of their liberty within the meaning of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in a hospital or care home, whether placed under public or private arrangements. The safeguards exist to provide a legal framework and protection in circumstances where deprivation of liberty appears to be unavoidable in a person’s best interests.

Professionals must remember that DoLS authorisations and Court of Protection orders are rooted in the principles of Mental Capacity Act:

  1. Everyone, regardless of their condition, should be assumed to have capacity unless there is reason to believe this may be impaired by a "disturbance of the mind or brain",
  2. Practitioners should take all practicable steps to support someone to make the decision for themselves, however;
  3. Where it is established that even with practicable steps someone does not have capacity to make the decision, any decision made on behalf of the person must be aim to be the less restrictive, but as effective for the protection of their wellbeing and;
  4. Be in their best interest and careful consideration of all options of care/treatment and support that maybe available to them.

The Supreme Court clarified in March 2014 how deprivation of liberty can be described. They said there is now a more straightforward way to work this out. If the person is:

  • not free to leave, and
  • subject to continuous or complete supervision and control and;
  • they lack capacity to consent to the arrangements

...they will most likely be deprived of liberty.

Many people in hospitals and care homes may have restrictions in place to keep them safe, but not all will be deprived of their liberty.

  • Hospitals and care homes have to identify the restrictions that they need to have in place to keep someone safe
  • If these restrictions amount to a deprivation of liberty the hospital or care home must request an authorisation from the supervisory body
  • It is unlawful for a hospital or care home to deprive a person of liberty without obtaining an authorisation

Easy read guides for DoLS to support Service Users and families and friends for the DoLS Process:

Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS)

The new Mental Capacity (Amendments) Act (MCA) 2019 introduces Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS), which were due to replace the current Mental Capacity Act 2005 and DOLS system from October 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government announced they could not commit to this date. However, Cheshire West and Chester Council are committed to the preparation of Liberty Protection Safeguards and we will continue to update our staff and partner agencies on developments.

The MCA Code of Practice and regulations consultation ended 14 July 2022 and is now in a period of consultation through parliament. In the meantime, we are still planning how best to support these changes and will update this page once we know more.

The MCA Draft Code of Practice which includes information about the new Mental Capacity Act and Liberty Protection Safeguards can be viewed online:

Liberty Protection Safeguards Factsheets can be found here which would be subject to change pending consultation outcome:

Planned changes to DoLS referrals

The Council is changing the way in which DoLS Referrals are received. As from 31 October 2022, we will no longer be accepting referrals via our email address.

An electronic DoLS Referral system / Portal has been developed for those professionals in Hospitals and Care homes to use when they wish to request an Urgent and/or Standard Authorisation to deprive someone of their liberty.

Further communication will be forwarded in due course to explain what you will need to do to complete a referral.

If you are a professional in a Care Home or Hospital ONLY

To make a request for Urgent and/or Standard Authorisation please refer via the Portal (please note you will be required to register an account if you haven’t done so already).

If you have any further queries in relation to the Mental Capacity (Amendments) Act 2019 or the Liberty Protection Safeguards, please contact the DOLS Team: