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Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

DoLS stands for the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards in order to safeguard an adult who lacks mental capacity.

The legislation came into force under amendments to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (“MCA 2006”) and followed a decision in the European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR”) to give protection to adults who lacked mental capacity to consent to care or treatment (but who at the same time needed their liberty limited in order to keep them safe). Article 5 of the ECHR relates. The adult is now referred to as “adult at risk” following advice from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (2011) which felt that the words “vulnerable adult” inferred that the word vulnerable wrongly suggested that the vulnerable person was at fault.

DoLS ensures that there is a procedure in place to ensure that an assessment is carried out by the Local Authority (“LA”) in the area where the adult is ordinarily resident. This covers both publicly funded and self-funding adults in hospital or in a Care home.

An application is made to the LA where the adult is ordinarily resident and an assessment is then carried out. Wherever possible less restrictive alternatives are recommended to be put in place with deprivation of liberty being a last resort and a DoLS is only put in place if in the best interests to protect the adult from harm, or provide treatment to them or if there is not a less restrictive alternative.

There are consultations taking place by the Law Commission in connection with a new regime called “Protective Care” which would focus on providing care and outcomes for patients with less deprivation of their liberty.

If you require further advice regarding the above, please contact a member of the team.

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