- What is deprivation of liberty?
- What is Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLs)?
- Where do DoLs apply?
- Who is responsible for applying the safeguards?
- Case Study
Liberty means being free to do the things someone wants to do (within the law) and being free to live where they want to live.
Deprivation of liberty means that these freedoms have been taken away.
The law says that a person is deprived of their liberty when they are:
- under constant supervision and control (by staff);
- they are not free to leave the place they are in; and
- they lack ‘mental capacity’ to agree to what happens to them. This means they are not able to make some or all decisions themselves.
DoLS is part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It means that people in care homes and hospitals are looked after in a way that keeps them safe, while not restricting all of their freedom, just things that may put them or other people at risk of being hurt.
DoLS protects the human rights of people who do not have mental capacity to agree to their freedoms being limited.
- using locks or keypads to prevent a person leaving;
- giving medication to calm a person down;
- managers saying a person needs to be supervised when they are outside;
- restricting a person’s contact with family and friends, including if they could harm someone;
- physically stopping a person from doing something when they could have injure themselves or someone else;
- removing items from a person which could harm them;
- holding a person so they can be given care or treatment;
- using bedrails, wheelchair straps or splints;
- needing close supervision when they are at home;
- the person has to stay somewhere they do not want to be.
DoLs apply to people who receive care and support in:
- care homes;
- accommodation projects, like supported housing.
The care home or hospital is responsible for making sure that if they need to deprive someone of their liberty it is done within the law.
A manager must apply to the local authority for them to agree to limit the person’s freedom.
People must always be cared for in a way that:
- does not limit their freedom without good reason
- does not limit all their choices or freedoms, just those that need to be put in place to make them safe.
So that deprivation of liberty should be seen as a last resort.
An assessment is then carried out to decide whether the person needs to be deprived of their liberty to keep them safe and what care or treatment they need.
Is is important that care should always be given in the way that least restricts the persons freedom while still keeping them and others safe and well.
A man with autism was admitted to hospital. The way that he was cared for by staff meant that his ability to do what he wanted was very limited. For example, his family was not allowed to take him home, and he was given medication without his agreement.
The man’s lawyers took his case to the European Court of Human Rights. They said the way he had been kept in hospital was against the law and that he had been deprived of his liberty under the Human Rights Act.
Following this, the DoLS legislation came into force so that if someone in a care home or hospital is cared for in a way that limits their freedom and they are not mentally able to agree to it, this must be done within the DoLS legislation.