Some people living in care homes and hospitals may not be able to make their own decisions. They may sometimes 'lack the capacity' to consent to treatment or the care they need, in these cases they can be 'deprived of their liberty', for example they:
- may not be allowed to leave the care home or hospital
- may be under continuous supervision and control
Since April 2009 the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) ensure that 'deprivation of liberty' only happens under very specific conditions and only when it is in someone's best interests. This legislation is part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
The standards aim to make sure people are looked after in a way that does not inappropriately restrict their freedom and applies to people who:
- are aged 18 or over
- have a mental disorder such as dementia or a learning disability
- lack the capacity to consent to where their treatment or care is given
- need to have their liberty taken away in their own best interests to protect them from harm
The standards ensure that no one is deprived of their liberty without good reason, and that a person still has specific rights.
Relevant persons representative (RPR)
Every person deprived of their liberty under the terms of the MCA DoLS must have a Relevant Persons Representative (RPR) to protect their interests throughout the process.
The role of the RPR is to:
- maintain contact with the person being deprived of their liberty
- represent and support that person in all matters relating to the DoLS, including, if appropriate, requesting a review, using an organisation’s complaints procedure on the person’s behalf or making an application to the Court of Protection
- provide support that is independent of the relevant person’s commissioners and service providers
The DoLS means care homes or hospitals must obtain authorisation for someone to be deprived of their liberty.
If someone is at risk of being deprived of their liberty, or is already being deprived of their liberty, the registered care home manager or hospital must apply for authorisation of the deprivation of liberty to the relevant supervisory body.
Get help with DoLS
Contact the DoLS Team for advice and assistance if:
- you think you're being deprived of your liberty
- you think someone you know is being deprived of their liberty
- you're a care home resident at risk of being, or already being deprived of your liberty
- you're a relative or friend of a care home resident at risk of being, or already being deprived of their liberty
- you're a registered care home manager concerned about a resident in your care