Deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS)

A deprivation of liberty is where a person's liberty is taken away from them, and they are under continuous supervision and control. The law only allows this to happen in specific situations.

Sometimes when a person who lacks mental capacity is in hospital or a residential home there might be situations where restraint or restrictions are needed that are in a person’s best interests.

If those actions will deprive that person of their liberty extra safeguards are needed, these are the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) and are part of the Mental Capacity Act.

Before depriving a person of their liberty hospitals or residential homes must get authorisation from a council.

The Mental Capacity Act DoLS 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 consent to the arrangements made for their care or treatment.
  • For whom receiving care or treatment in circumstances that amount to a deprivation of liberty may be necessary to protect them from harm.

You can find out more about DoLS in the useful guides below.

Useful guides