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Health and wellbeing

Deprivation of Liberty

What is meant by Deprivation of Liberty (DoL)?

Liberty means having the freedom to do the things you want to do and live where you want to live.

Article 5 of the Human Rights Act states that,

‘everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his or her liberty [unless] in accordance with a procedure prescribed in law’.

There may be times due to serious illness, injury or a disability that a person will need significant help and support to maintain their physical and emotional health. If they lack capacity in relation to their care and support, need high levels of supervision and are not able to make the choice to leave, this could mean being deprived of their liberty.

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) set out a process that care homes and hospitals must follow if they believe it is in a person’s best interests to deprive them of their liberty, in order to provide care and support. In such cases this can only be authorised by the DoLS legal framework.

If a person is in another setting including supported living environments, their own home or a number of settings, deprivation of their liberty can only be authorised by the Court of Protection.

In either situation, to make sure the persons rights are protected, assessments will need to demonstrate that:

  • there is no less restrictive alternative
  • it is the persons best interests, and
  • the care and support provided is necessary and proportionate to the risk and likelihood of serious harm to that person if they did not receive it.

When deprivation of liberty is authorised either by the DoLS process or the Court of Protection the person concerned will have additional protections to make sure their rights are maintained.