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  • Writer's pictureBen Slater

What is a deprivation of liberties safeguard (dols) ?



older lady with a womans hand on her shoulder, an older man sits in the background

 In the realm of health and social care, protecting the rights and freedoms of individuals who may not have the capacity to make certain decisions is paramount. This is where Deprivation of Liberties Safeguarding (DoLS) comes into play. A legal framework in the UK, DoLS ensures that any deprivation of liberty for such individuals is lawful, necessary, and in their best interests.


Understanding DoLS: DoLS applies to individuals who lack the mental capacity to make decisions about their care and treatment and who may need to be deprived of their liberty in a care home or hospital for their safety and welfare. This could include, for example, individuals with dementia, severe learning disabilities, or brain injuries.


The Purpose of DoLS:

  1. Protecting Rights: DoLS is designed to protect the rights of vulnerable individuals, ensuring that their freedom is only restricted when absolutely necessary.

  2. Ensuring Legality: It provides a legal framework to authorize the deprivation of liberty, ensuring it's done within the bounds of the law.

  3. Best Interests at Heart: Every DoLS case must be evaluated to ensure that the actions taken are in the best interests of the individual concerned.


The DoLS Process:

  1. Assessment: A series of assessments are conducted to determine if the person indeed lacks the capacity to make decisions about their care and treatment and whether depriving them of their liberty is necessary and proportionate this includes a mental capacity assessment and a health assessment.

  2. Authorization: If the assessments justify a deprivation of liberty, a formal authorization is required, typically from the local authority.

  3. Regular Reviews: DoLS authorizations are time-limited and subject to regular reviews to ensure they remain appropriate and necessary.


Safeguards within DoLS:

  • Right to an Advocate: Individuals under DoLS have the right to an advocate who can support and represent them in any DoLS appeals.

  • Legal Representation: They also have the right to legal representation, particularly if they or their families wish to contest the DoLS.

  • Regular Monitoring: Regular checks are conducted to ensure that the conditions of the DoLS are being met and that the individual's welfare is paramount.



DoLS plays a critical role in balancing the need for care and treatment with the rights and freedoms of individuals. At Nellie Supports, we understand the intricacies of DoLS and are dedicated to providing support and advice to those navigating this complex area.


Whether you're a care provider, a family member, or an individual seeking clarity on DoLS, we're here to help. Remember, safeguarding the liberties and rights of the most vulnerable is not just a legal duty; it's a moral one.

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