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Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

About the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

This information is relevant for registered care and nursing home providers or hospitals. Individuals or their families may wish to refer to more information on mental capacity.

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) apply to people who are 18 years or over and unable to make their own decisions about arrangements for their care. The law states that authorisation should be granted prior to someone becoming deprived of their liberty, unless it’s an emergency.

DoLS apply to all people who are subject to “continuous supervision and control and are not free to leave” and lack capacity to make decisions about their care or treatment arrangements.

“Continuous supervision and control” is when there are staff on hand 24 hours a day to help the person, or to protect them if they’re likely to come to harm. This is likely to apply to most care homes and hospitals.

“Not free to leave” means if the person wanted to leave, and never come back, or perhaps go out alone, this would be monitored or restricted in some way. It does not matter whether they could physically leave, or whether they want to leave, it means whether they would be free to go on their own if they wanted to.

In these circumstances, there should be an independent check on whether the arrangements are in the person’s best interests, and that there’s not a better way to care for them that is less restrictive of their rights.

How to make a request for a DoLS application

This information is for staff at care homes and hospitals.

We would prefer that you use the online system to apply for:

  • an urgent (including a standard authorisation)
  • a standard authorisation where you apply up to 28 days in advance of the person coming to you or you know you will be depriving them of their liberty from a certain date
  • a further standard authorisation also referred to as a renewal - if you already have an authorisation in place and it’s due to expire.

The online form gives us much clearer information and enables us to prioritise referrals more effectively. The advantage to local hospitals is that these requests automatically notify their DoLS leads.

When submitting your application, remember to:

  • include as much detail in your referrals as possible - this will help us triage their priority and may avoid a follow-up phone call
  • include the person’s permanent address and demographic information
  • include the date they came to you
  • update us with any changes, by email if possible at for Bournemouth and Christchurch residents, or for Poole residents.

How we deal with your DoLS application  

Care homes and hospitals must apply to us for authorisation to deprive someone of their liberty.

The process:

  • when we receive an application, we send out two independent assessors, one a specially trained doctor and the other a specially trained ‘best interests assessor;’ they will talk to the person and their family or friends to get their views and consider whether the arrangements are necessary, and a proportionate response to any risks
  • if a person has a lasting power of attorney for health and welfare or a personal welfare deputy, they can only be deprived of their liberty under the DoLS if they are in agreement with the proposed care and treatment. If the person objects to the arrangements or proposed arrangements, they still have the same right to appeal as someone without an attorney or deputy
  • if someone objects to a proposed move into care, assessments must happen before the move to ensure the person’s human rights are upheld and that the move is lawful
  • if authorisation is given, a representative is appointed to help the person exercise their rights
  • a DoLS authorisation does not give the home or hospital any special powers, it only makes lawful the restrictions that are already/proposed to be in place; families should be consulted about any proposed changes in the person’s care plan
  • if your family member has been referred and you are worried about whether they will be seen, or how long it might take to process the referral, please contact us.

Contact us about DoLS  

Contact us for any queries about a DoLS application.

Bournemouth and Christchurch residents:

Poole residents:

Liberty protection safeguards (from 2023)

DoLS is due to be replaced by Liberty Protection Safeguards in 2023 and a consultation was held on the topic of a new Mental Capacity Act code of practice to include Liberty Protection Safeguards changes.

To view the documents in relation to this consultation please visit the government website.