The Deprivation of Liberty safeguards (DOLS) are in place to protect people who lack capacity from being unlawfully deprived of their liberty. They apply to people who lack capacity to make a decision about their care or treatment but are not detained under the Mental Health Act.
In a legal case from 2014 the Supreme Court provided a test for defining a deprivation of liberty. They said that a deprivation of liberty occurs when:
‘The person is under continuous supervision and control and is not free to leave, and the person lacks capacity to consent to these arrangements.’
This could include for example, a person with dementia who is living in a care home and is monitored to stop them from leaving. This meant that a lot more people are considered deprived of their liberty than previously including many people living with dementia. Last year, 51% of people with DOLS applications had dementia recorded as their primary disability (NHS Digital).