Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

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Deprivation of Liberty

As UK citizens, our right to liberty and freedom is protected under Article 5 of the Human Rights Act. This means we can only have our freedom taken away in certain circumstances.   

A person may be subject to restrictions that amount to a Deprivation of Liberty in order to receive care or treatment to meet their care and support needs.  In these situations, a legal authorisation must be applied for.

If the person is living in a CQC (Care Quality Commission) registered care home or hospital the authorisation is made using the legal framework of DoLS (Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards). If the person lives in any other setting or is 16 or 17 years old an application to the Court of Protection is required to Authorise the care arrangements (read ‘Deprivation of Liberty in other settings’ below). These decisions are made under the Mental Capacity Act (2005) to ensure care and treatment is provided in the least restrictive way, and in the person’s Best Interests. More information can be found in the MCA Code of Practice

If you are a care home or hospital needing to make an application for DoLS, or request a review, read here.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

When a DoLS can be considered

A DoLS authorisation can only be made in a CQC (Care Quality Commission) registered care home or hospital. 

A DoLS authorisation is only considered if:

  • the person lacks the mental capacity to make the decision about where they should be accommodated in order to receive care or treatment and
  • the person is subject to continuous supervision and control by those who care for them (for example, someone who knows where the person is at all times and what they are doing) and
  • the person lacks the freedom to enter and leave the premises permanently to live elsewhere if they choose to do so.

DoLS in a care home or hospital setting

If a person has moved into a care home, is spending time in a short break or in a hospital setting and the above three factors apply, the manager of the care home or hospital should request an assessment for a DoLS Standard Authorisation from the council as covered below. The manager should usually inform friends or family involved in the person’s welfare about the application at the time they are making it and explain the reasons.

How a DoLS is authorised in a care home or hospital setting

DoLS defines a hospital or registered care home as a ‘Managing Authority’, and the Local Authority as a ‘Supervisory Body’. Each has their own set of duties and responsibilities. Managing Authorities have a duty to identify an existing or potential Deprivation of Liberty and make a referral to the relevant Supervisory Body. On receiving an appropriate DoLS referral, the Supervisory Body will have to arrange an assessment as part of the process of deciding whether or not to grant a Standard Authorisation.

CQC registered care homes and hospitals can make an application for a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Standard Authorisation to South Gloucestershire Council by completing form 1 (Urgent Authorisation and Request for Standard Authorisation), or form 2 (further authorisation request) to request a re-assessment of a current DoLS Standard Authorisation that is about to expire. The necessary forms are available on GOV.UK.

Additional information on making a DoLS application can be found on the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) website.

Once completed, forms should be emailed to using a secure email facility

Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCAs)

There are some situations where a person is legally entitled to the support of an advocate. This is called 'statutory advocacy'. Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCAs) are specially trained to support  people when the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) applies to them.  They have an important role in protecting people’s rights when DoLS applies to them. You can find out more about IMCAs and other advocacy support available on this page.

How an assessment is made to grant a DoLS

A DoLS assessment is made up of six parts and is completed by two professionals.

A Best Interest Assessor (BIA) and Mental Health Assessor will both visit and assess the person.  The BIA will make a decision about whether to recommend a DoLS Standard Authorisation. 

The Supervisory Body will consider all assessments and decide whether to make a DoLS Standard Authorisation for up to one year.

A friend or relative involved in the person’s welfare may be consulted as part of the assessment process. Research in Practice have produced a factsheet about DoLS which contains further information.

If the care or treatment is likely to continue beyond the duration of the Standard Authorisation, an application for a further Standard Authorisation must be considered before the existing one expires.

If an authorisation is refused, the hospital or care home will need to provide the care or treatment in a less restrictive way that does not result in a deprivation of liberty.

Deprivation of Liberty in other settings

If someone could be deprived of their liberty in a setting that is not a hospital or care home or the person is 16 or 17 years old the council will arrange for a best interests assessment to be completed. This is to establish whether there is a less restrictive way to provide care and support. Family and friends and professionals involved in the person’s care and support will be consulted as part of this process. The person’s social worker usually carries out the assessment.

Once the assessment is complete, if the restrictions are considered proportionate the council will apply directly to the Court of Protection for legal authorisation so that they may continue to deprive the person of their liberty. 

Mind’s website contains information about what amounts to a ‘Deprivation of Liberty’.

Further information

Age.UK have published a comprehensive factsheet about DoLS which is available on their website.

GOV.UK have published an easy read guide to Liberty Protection Safeguards which provides a summary of the law and processes which must be followed.

ADASS have a 'Quick guide' to DoLS on their website. 

If you need to contact the South Gloucestershire Council DoLS team, they can be reached by email: or via telephone number 01454 865824.