Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS)

The Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (MCA DoLS), which came into force on 1 April 2009, provides a legal framework to ensure people are deprived of their liberty only when there is no other way to care for them or safely provide treatment. They were introduced as an amendment under the Mental Health Act 2007 but form part of the Mental Capacity Act.

These amendments introduce new responsibilities and legal duties on registered care homes and hospital in-patient services. DOLS also impose new requirements of local
authorities and Local Health Boards.

The MCA DOL safeguards apply to anyone:

  • aged 18 and over
  • who suffers from a mental disorder or disability of the mind – such as dementia or a profound learning disability
  • who lacks the capacity to give informed consent to the arrangements made for their care and / or treatment and
  • for whom deprivation of liberty (within the meaning of Article 5 of the ECHR) is considered after an independent assessment to be the “least restrictive” way of achieving their “Best Interests”.

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards concern individuals in hospitals and care homes (i.e. registered accommodation) who may need to be deprived of their liberty in order to protect them from serious harm. DOLS do not apply if a person is detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983. However, they do apply if a person is subject to Section 7 of the Mental Health Act (Guardianship).

Care homes and hospitals have responsibility for preventing unnecessary deprivations of liberty. They must also recognise if a person is deprived of their liberty or if a deprivation of liberty is likely to happen. Like other health and care providers, care homes also have a responsibility to promote the independence of each person in their care and to support them in their choices.

Care homes will need to provide additional support to residents who lack the mental capacity to make a decision for themselves. Care homes and hospitals are responsible for
granting themselves an ‘urgent authorisation’ and applying to the relevant local authority or primary care trust for a ‘standard authorisation’ under DOLS.

For further information contact:

Cardiff and Vale MCA/DoLS Team
Dock Office
Subway Road
Barry CF63 4RT
Tel: 01446 704849 / 704722
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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