Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)
What is the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards?
Sometimes people are deemed to lack the mental capacity to consent to their accommodation and the measures that have been put into place for them to ensure they remain safe and protected from harm. Often these decisions can mean that the person’s autonomy or freedom of movement need to be restricted in some way.
Health and social care staff must consider and act on the following factors when planning care or treatment
- The person has been assessed as lacking the mental capacity to consent to their accommodation to enable them to receive care or treatment.
- The care or treatment cannot be provided in a less restrictive way.
- The care or treatment must be in line with the statutory best interest checklist.
If, as a consequence of care arrangements,the person is ‘not free to leave’ their accommodation and the person‘is subject to continuous supervision and control’ then the person has been deprived of their liberty
Where do the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards apply?
The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards provide legal protection for vulnerable people who are or who may become deprived of their liberty.
There are 2 different pathways available to safeguard people, depending on where the person is accommodated:
One route applies to people who are accommodated within their own homes, this will include arrangements such as supported living and educational facilities, they are aged 16 or over, and an NHS Body or the Local Authority has some level of responsibility for the arrangements that have the effect of depriving the person of their liberty.
Where this criteria is met the Local Authority or the NHS Body where the person is ordinarily resident is responsible for making an application to the Court of Protection to seek permission to lawfully deprive the person of their liberty.
Hospitals and care homes
The second route applies to people who are accommodated in either a hospital, care or nursing home, are aged 18 years or over, It doesn’t matter whether the person has been placed under public or private arrangement.
Where this criteria is met the hospital, care or nursing home must make an application to the Local Authority, where the person is ordinarily resident, for permission to lawfully deprive the person of their liberty.
Supreme Court ruling
‘On the 19th March 2014 ‘The Supreme Court’ set a definition to clarify what constitutes a deprivation of a person’s liberty. For access to the full text Supreme Court ruling and the subsequent Care Quality Commission Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards briefing paper.
When can someone be deprived of their liberty?
To deprive a person of their liberty is a very serious matter, the safeguard’s make it clear that a person may only be deprived of their liberty:
- In their own best interest to protect them from harm.
- If it is a proportionate response to the likelihood and seriousness of harm.
- If there is no less restrictive alternative. The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards are supported by a ‘Code of Practice‘. The Code of Practice which has statutory force.