Deprivation of liberty safeguards (DOLS)

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are a mechanism to protect the rights of vulnerable people and form part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The safeguards aim to make sure that people in care homes and hospitals are looked after in a way that does not inappropriately restrict their freedom.

The safeguards set out a process that hospitals and care homes must follow if they believe it is in the person's best interests to deprive them of their liberty in order to provide the care that they need. It is then the role of Blackburn with Darwen Adult Social Care to arrange for assessments to consider the mental capacity of the person and ensure any arrangements relating to their care are in their best interests.

In summary, the safeguards ensure:

  • that the arrangements are in the person’s best interest
  • a representative is appointed to support the person and advocate for them
  • the person is given a legal right of appeal over the arrangements
  • the arrangements are reviewed and continue for no longer than necessary

A deprivation of liberty occurs when:

  • a person is under continuous supervision and control in a care home or hospital
  • is not free to leave
  • the person lacks capacity to consent to these arrangements

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards team can be contacted by emailing

Further information is available on the GOV.UK website.