Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards - what are they?

Basically, they apply when

  • A person does not have the capacity to consent to being in a hospital or care home, for example because they have a severe dementia, or to the arrangements for their treatment and care.
  • And the hospital or care home controls the person's life to a high degree.
  • And the person would not be free to leave if they asked.

A person's liberty can be regarded as being deprived even if they are happy staying where they are and do not want to leave, because all the above things apply.

What is the point of the Safeguards?

The reason for the safeguards is to ensure that a Deprivation of Liberty:

  • Should be avoided whenever possible.
  • Should only be authorised in cases where it is in the relevant person's best interests and the only way to keep them safe.
  • Should be for as short a time as possible.
  • Should make sure that any care plan gives someone as much freedom as possible.

How are assessments made?

A specially qualified doctor and a social worker or nurse who have special training in the DoLS make assessments. The social worker or nurse, known as a Best Interest Assessor, decides whether someone's liberty is deprived, whether it is in their best interest, and whether any changes can be made to the care plan to give the person more choice or freedom, for example the opportunity to go out more. A panel of managers then look at the assessments to check they meet the requirements before the DoLS is agreed.

How could someone appeal about this?

A 'relevant person's representative' is appointed - usually a close family member, or an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA). The family member could have the support of an IMCA if needed. Ultimately the court of protection could be asked to decide.

Want to find out more?

Please ring the DoLS Team at Powys County Council on 01597 826843.

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