Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

Some adults in a care home or a hospital lack the mental capacity to make decisions about their treatment or care. In cases like this it may be necessary to introduce measures that deprive the adult of their liberty in order to keep them safe.

Depriving you of your liberty

You are being deprived of your liberty if you lack the mental capacity to consent to your care or treatment, and –

  • you are under continuous supervision and control;
  • you are not free to leave, and;
  • your care arrangements are the responsibility of the state.

Below are examples of how staff at the hospital or care home might deprive you of your liberty:

  • staff do not allow you to leave the hospital or care home
  • staff physically constrain you
  • staff give you medication in order to control your behaviour

Purpose of DoLS

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) were introduced to ensure that:

  • adults who lack the mental capacity to consent to care or treatment are not deprived of their liberty when it is not in their best interests; and
  • adults are able to challenge any measures which deprive them of their liberty.

In order to lawfully deprive you of your liberty, your care home or hospital must first seek our permission. We will arrange for you to be assessed by appropriate professionals to find out whether or not you have the mental capacity to make your own decisions about your care and/or treatment, and also whether the circumstances for depriving you of your liberty meet the legal requirements and are in your best interests.

If we agree that it is necessary to deprive you of your liberty, we will ensure that:

  • the measures introduced are the least restrictive required;
  • they are proportionate to the risk posed, and;
  • they are in place for as short a time as necessary.

If we do not agree that you should be deprived of your liberty the care home or hospital must ensure that they do not illegally deprive you of your liberty.

I am being deprived of my liberty, but I am not in a hospital or care home

It is possible to deprive somebody of their liberty in settings other than a hospital or care home. For example, an adult may be deprived of their liberty in settings including (but not limited to) a day centre, supported housing or shared lives accommodation. In cases such as these an application should be made to the Court of Protection in order to deprive the adult of his/her liberty.

Contact details

If you are a care home provider or hospital, or if you (or somebody you care for) have been placed in a care home or hospital and you would like to know more about Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, you can contact us on the following details:

T: 0207 525 1754
E: Dols@southwark.gov.uk

Page last updated: 17 November 2017