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DoLS for Professionals

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

Some people living in hospitals and care homes can't make their own decisions about their treatment and/or care because they lack the mental capacity to do so. They need more care and protection than others to ensure they don't suffer harm. Treating and caring for people who need extra protection may mean restricting their freedom to the point of depriving them of their liberty.

The European Court of Human Rights has said that the rights of people who can't make decisions and who need to have their liberty taken away in hospitals and care homes must be strengthened.  A person's liberty should not be taken away if it can be avoided, and never without a proper procedure being followed or the right to appeal. 

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 has now led to the introduction of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). The Safeguards became law on April 1st 2009. They protect people who cannot make decisions about treatment or care, for example, some people who have dementia, a mental health problem or a severe learning disability.  The law says the DoLS must be used if people need to have their liberty taken away in order to receive treatment and care that is in their best interests and protects them from harm. Failure to follow the DoLS procedures could lead to staff acting unlawfully.

The Safeguards provide an independent assessment process for people who may need to be deprived of liberty in order to be looked after and kept safe.  This assessment can establish that such care is indeed a deprivation and is necessary, setting out how it should be provided.  Alternatively it identifies other ways to provide care which do not restrict so heavily, making further use of DoLS unnecessary.

The Council and NHS have worked together to set up a new Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Team. This team is responsible for arranging assessments that are needed before any deprivation is authorised.

Information for Managing Authorities

Worcestershire County Council Adult Protection and DoLS Team have created the following summary which is not intended as a substitute for a full reading of the Code and Guide, but incorporates pointers and advice to help the completion of the forms and generally make the Request for Standard Authorisation process run more smoothly.

which contains the following guidance:

  • Before You Start
  • Ensuring use of the Safeguards is the Correct Step
  • Issuing Yourself an Urgent Authorisation
  • Asking for an Urgent Authorisation to be extended
  • Making a request for a Standard Authorisation
  • The Granting of a Standard Authorisation
  • When a Request for Standard Authorisation is Declined
  • When a Standard Authorisation is in Place – Renewal
  • When a Standard Authorisation is in Place – Review
  • Unauthorised Deprivation of Liberty
  • How to Submit a Form

For further information or guidance please see the SCIE website


Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Code of Practice

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Code of Practice contains official guidance on your obligations, and the DoLS Forms and Record Keeping Guide for Managing Authorities in England and the forms themselves contain important information on steps you must take. 

The DoLS Code of Practice was written before the forms were designed so it is highly advisable to refer to both this and the DoLS Forms and Record Keeping Guide for Managing Authorities in England. 

See the Forms, Links and Information page for form downloads.

Contact Us

If you have any questions or need advice about DoLS, please do not hesitate to contact The Adult Protection and DoLS Team as below:

Please send any letters to:

Adult Protection and DoLS Team
Adult Services and Health
County Hall
Spetchley Road

Telephone:  01905 82 2624

Fax: 01905 72 8554

You can e-mail us on

Further Information

In this section

More Information

See also in our website

External websites

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This page was last reviewed 30 January 2014 at 11:40.
The page is next due for review 29 July 2015.