Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

DoLS is funded by Dudley MBC for those who reside in the Dudley Borough.


What is a Deprivation of Liberty?

When a Managing Authority (either care home or hospital) has a reasonable belief they may be depriving  person in their care of their liberty, they make an application to the Supervisory Body at the Local Authority responsible for the person’s care for a Standard Authorisation; they may also grant themselves an Urgent Authorisation which allows the Managing Authority to legally deprive the person for 7 days whilst assessments take place.  


The Supervisory Body will then put a process in place to review this placement to establish:

If a Deprivation of Liberty is taking place and whether what’s called the ‘Acid test’ from Cheshire West Supreme Court ruling is met. The ‘Acid test’ is whether the person is being continually monitored and supervised where they are residing, and get no unsupervised access to the community, and whether the person would be free to leave and reside where they wished. If the person is always escorted whether it’s with staff or family/friends, and they would be stopped from moving to another place, then the Acid test is met, and the person is being deprived of their liberty.

What are the Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards?

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) protect people who lack capacity to consent to being deprived of their liberty. This means that because an illness, an injury or a disability has affected the way their mind works they are not able to agree that they will not be allowed to do certain things.

Because of the DoLS vulnerable people cannot have their freedom taken away unless it is in their best interests and there is no ‘less restrictive alternative’ (an option which will affect the person’s freedom or rights less). The Supervisory Body (the local council where the person normally lives) decides if a person can legally be deprived of their liberty and for how long. To do this they arrange assessments.

The Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) service was created under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The Act provides the legal framework for acting and making decisions on behalf of people who lack the mental capacity to make particular decisions for themselves (at the time the decision needs to be made). The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards are an amendment to the Mental Capacity Act. They were implemented in April 2009.

The Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) must be instructed by the supervisory body (this is normally the Local Authority) when a person is being deprived of their liberty if the person meets certain criteria. It must be remembered that for a DoLS to be in place the person must be assessed to lack capacity in regard to where they live and care and treatment they will receive and there must not be family or friends who are willing and able to do the RPR role.

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 of their liberty, in order to provide a particular care plan.

In summary, the safeguards ensure:

  • 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.

Who does the Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards apply to?

DoLS apply to anyone who is 18 or over and who lacks capacity to consent to being deprived of their liberty. The safeguards cover patients in hospitals and people in care homes but do not apply to patients who are detained under the Mental Health Act.

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How to make a referral for a DoLS Advocate

It is the responsibility of the care home or hospital to notify the local authority of a deprivation of liberty. The local authority DoLS team will then instruct an advocate to act as a paid relevant person's representative (RPR). Please contact your local DoLS team for more information.

Community DoLS (CDoLS)

People who don't live in a care home or hospital can still be deprived of their liberty. If this is the case, an application must be made to the Court of Protection. 

Social workers are currently responsible for completing the applications to court. If the person meets the criteria for advocacy support, a referral must be made via Dudley commissioning. 

Out of Borough DoLS (OoBD)

Dudley Advocacy offer a service where someone who is being deprived of their liberty, either in the Dudley area or outside of it, and who is not funded by Dudley Local authority, can have a representative from Dudley Advocacy.

Normally spot purchased by the Supervisory Body that is paying for the persons placement, Dudley Advocacy offers the same level of service for Out of Borough clients as it does for those living in borough. IMCAs/Advocates will still make regular visits, represent the clients wishes, make representations and make formal challenges if needed.

If you are interested in spot purchasing this service, or require more information, please call: 01384 456 877.