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Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS)

People who lack mental capacity need to be cared for in a way that ensures they are safe, but as far as is possible they should also be free to do the things they want to do.

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.  They apply to adults who are in hospital or who live in a care home or in supported living and who lack the mental capacity to consent to treatment or care.  People need to be cared for in a way that ensures they are safe, but as far as is possible they should also be free to do the things they want to do.

If someone is stopped from what they want to do all the time, this is called being deprived of their liberty.  Sometimes people having treatment or care might be deprived of their liberty to keep them safe.  People responsible for making decisions on that person's behalf would have to be sure that those decisions are in that person's best interest and that there is no other way to look after them safely.

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards are there to ensure that if someone is deprived of their liberty, it is done in a way that is legal, proportionate and that protects the person.  The hospital or care home has to apply for a DoLS Authorisation and a minimum of two people will have to assess the person and check that all the relevant grounds are met before a DoLS Authorisation is issued.

Further information on the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards:

DoLS Code of Practice:  

The DoLS Code of Practice is a rule book which helps explain how a person may become deprived of their liberty, and how deprivation of liberty may be avoided. It also explains the safeguards that have been put in place to ensure that deprivation of liberty has a lawful basis.

The Code of Practice is available on the NHS Wales websiteOpens new window.

Information from other organisations

Several other organisations provide useful information about DoLS on their websites which explains what the safeguards are, who is affected, and the process for getting authorisation for a deprivation of liberty.

Deprivation of Liberty, Mental Capacity Act 2005 - MindOpens new window

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards - Alzheimer's SocietyOpens new window

Age UK - Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards factsheetOpens new window

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