Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

Sometimes people who have been assessed to lack the mental capacity to decide about their care and where they live are legally ‘deprived of their liberty’.

This means the person is not free to leave where they are living, and are constantly supervised – for instance by a carer, support worker or a nurse.

In this situation, the local authority (know as the Supervisory Body) is legally required to provide an independent check to make sure that the person is only restricted enough to keep them safe and that this is in their best interests.  These are known as the ‘Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards’ or DoLS.

DoLS are intended to safeguard the person’s human rights, particularly the right to liberty, but also the right to a private and family life and their rights in general.

If the Supervisory Body is carrying out an assessment for DoLS, they may involve an IMCA to get an independent opinion on the person’s wishes and feelings.

If the Supervisory Body does agree to authorise the deprivation of liberty, they must also appoint a representative for the person (known as the Relevant Person’s Representative).  This can be a family member or friend, or sometimes can be an advocate acting as a paid representative.

The representative’s role is to visit regularly, make sure that the carers are acting in the person’s best interests, and if necessary ask the Supervisory Body to review their decision.

The representative can also apply to the Court of Protection to ask the Court to review the deprivation of liberty on the person’s behalf.

Citizens Advice Sheffield Advocacy Service provides the paid Representative service for Sheffield Supervisory Body.

Deprivation of Liberty at home

Some people who lack capacity to take decisions about their care and accommodation, who are still living in their own home with a care package are also legally deprived of their liberty to ensure they are safe.

In these circumstances, the care provider must ask the Court of Protection to authorise this.  We can provide support to people in this position, along with their friends and families – get in touch if you are not sure.

For more information on the Mental Capacity Act and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards: