What are Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

What are Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The safeguards aim to make sure that people in care homes and hospitals are looked after in a way that does not inappropriately restrict their freedom.

The safeguards set out a process that hospitals and care homes must follow if they believe it is in the person's best interests to deprive a person them of their liberty, in order to provide a particular care plan. It is then the role of Leeds Adult Social Care to arrange for assessments to ensure the deprivation of liberty is in the person’s best interests.

In summary, the safeguards ensures:


  • that the arrangements are in the person’s best interest
  • the person is appointed someone to represent them
  • the person is given a legal right of appeal over the arrangements
  • the arrangements are reviewed and continue for no longer than necessary.

A recent court decision determined that a deprivation of liberty occurs when:


  • a person is under continuous supervision and control in a care home or hospital, and
  • is not free to leave, and
  • the person lacks capacity to consent to these arrangements.

Whether someone is deprived of their liberty depends on the person's specific circumstances. A large restriction may sometimes in itself be a deprivation of liberty or sometimes a number of small restrictions added together will amount to a deprivation of liberty.  What needs to be assessed is the amount of control that the care home or hospital has over the person.

For more information about Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) please go to our Useful Publications pages.

If you need to request a DoLS assessment or seek advice, please contact the DoLS Advice Line, 0113 855 2347.​​

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