DoLS are a part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 that provide a means of lawfully depriving someone of their liberty in either a hospital or care home, if it is in their best interests and is the least restrictive way of keeping the person safe from harm.
People may only be lawfully deprived of their liberty [e.g. detained under the Mental Health Act], if the deprivation has been authorised by law.
DoLS provides such a legal procedure.
A Supreme Court judgement in March 2014 defined a deprivation of liberty as where a person was
"under continuous supervision and control and not free to leave".
DoLS authorisations can only be made for people, aged 18 years and over, in hospitals or care homes - they cannot be used in a person's own home.
A DoLS authorisation can only be used if six criteria are met - e.g. the person must be 18 y ears of age or over, have a mental disorder [ie any disorder or disability of mind] and lack the capacity to make decisions about the arrangements for their care.
The hospital or care home has to apply for a DoLS authorisation, and on receipt of it, the LHB or Local Authority will send out a minimum of 2 people [one a doctor with experience of mental disorder and the other a Best Interests Assessor] to assess the person on the 6 grounds. If all the grounds are met the LHB or LA will issue a DoLS authorisation, so that the person can lawfully be kept in the hospital or care home.
The person in question will be appointed a Relevant Person's Representative [usually a relative or friend] to help them exercise their rights under this liegislation. Appeals agains DoLS are handled by the Court of Protection.
For more information on DoLS [including the Code of Practice] and the Mental Capacity Act 2005 generally, please go to:-