Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

3. What are Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)?

If a care home or hospital plans to deprive a person of their liberty in the ways listed above, they must get permission. To do this, they must follow strict processes called the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). DoLS are a set of checks that are designed to ensure that a person who is deprived of their liberty is protected, and that this course of action is both appropriate and in the person’s best interests.

The definition of what counts as a deprivation of liberty is wide, and so most people with dementia living in care homes and hospitals will receive care that falls under the definition. This isn’t a bad thing, however. It is often necessary to provide care in this way. DoLS offer protection to ensure that, when someone’s freedom is restricted, it is both in their best interests and, where possible, done in the least restrictive way.

The key elements of these safeguards are:

  • to provide the person with a representative – a person who is given certain rights and who should look out for and monitor the person receiving care (see The ‘relevant person’s representative’ below)
  • to give the person (or their representative) the right to challenge a deprivation of liberty through the Court of Protection (see ‘Other useful organisations’)
  • to provide a mechanism for a deprivation of liberty to be reviewed and monitored regularly (see ‘Reviews’ below).