About Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

Examples of restrictions which could deprive someone of their liberty include:

  • using locks or key pads to stop a person going out or into different areas of a building
  • using medication to calm a person
  • close supervision in the home, or when out
  • holding a person to give them care, support or treatment
  • using equipment like bedrails, wheelchair straps, restraints in a vehicle and splints

What DoLS are for

DoLS are laws that protect people who lack the mental capacity to agree to their care arrangements.

Find out what it means to lack mental capacity.

If someone in a care home or hospital, is being restricted or restrained, DoLS make sure this is:

  • necessary
  • not excessive
  • in the persons best interests

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are part of the Mental Capacity Act. Find out more about the Mental Capacity Act.

How to apply for a DoLS

If a hospital or care home thinks they need to restrict or restrain someone who lacks capacity, they must apply to the Council to be able to do this. 

The Council will decide whether the DoLS request is in the person’s best interests, and whether to authorise it. 

Two assessors will meet the person, and decide if they have capacity to consent to the care arrangements. If the person does not have capacity, the assessors will decide if it is in the person’s best interests to deprive them of their liberty.

The assessors are:

  • a best interests assessor, an experienced social worker or occupational therapist 
  • a mental health assessor, an experienced psychiatrist or a section 12 doctor 

The best interest assessor will speak to key family members, friends and paid care staff.

If the person does not have any family or friends, we will ask an independent mental capacity advocate to help them.

The council can only authorise a DoLS for up to 12 months. If this is not enough time, a new application is needed.

How to apply for a DoLS when care is being given in someone’s home

Sometimes, care and support in someone’s home might involve restricting or restraining the person. 

In this situation the assessor working with the person (usually a social worker), will need to apply to the Court of Protection to authorise the DoLS.