Deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS)

The deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS) are part of the Mental Capacity Act.

When a person lacks the mental capacity to make decisions about the care or treatment they need, and may be at risk if that care is not provided, it is sometimes in their best interests to deprive them of their liberty. The aim of this is to prevent them from coming to harm. The safeguards are in place to protect the person, make sure their loss of liberty is legal and no one is deprived of their liberty without good reason.

The safeguards affect people who may be in hospitals, residential care and nursing homes, and may include anyone over the age of 18 years with an impairment of the mind or brain. This includes people with dementia who are admitted to a hospital or a care home, are ‘deprived of their liberty’ and do not have the ability to make the decision about their care or treatment.

In 2014 the Supreme Court established an acid test, if ‘P’ is under constant supervision at all times and is not free to leave then they are deprived of their liberty.

Hospitals and care homes requesting authorisation for a deprivation of liberty

Hospitals and care homes have to identify the restrictions they need to have in place to keep someone safe.

If these restrictions (when added together) amount to a deprivation of liberty, the hospital or care home must request an authorisation from us, Kent County Council, as the supervisory body.

It is unlawful for a hospital or care home to deprive a person of their liberty without getting authorisation.

If the deprivation of liberty is agreed, the person it affects:

  • must have a representative appointed to support them
  • has the right to challenge the authorisation in the Court of Protection
  • can request that the authorisation be reviewed to check whether criteria to deprive them of their liberty are still met.

When we get a request for an authorisation we will organise a series of 6 assessments. These assessments are carried out by trained Best Interest Assessors (BIAs) and suitably qualified doctors.

The assessments have to confirm that the care measures proposed or taking place are in fact a deprivation of liberty and are:

  • for a person who lacks capacity to make a decision on their care
  • necessary to prevent harm to them
  • the least restrictive way to keep the person safe
  • in their best interests, considering their stated wishes and beliefs and those of people close to them
  • legal and compatible with other care legislation.

Further information

To find out more you can read about the deprivation of liberty safeguards on:

We have information for professionals about the deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS).

Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS)

Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) were due to replace the current DOLS system from October 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the government has not announced a revised date yet. We will update this page when we know more.