Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards
The law protecting human rights in the Deprivation of Liberty
The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The Safeguards make sure a person’s human rights are protected.
People can only be deprived of their liberty if they are not able to make their own decisions about arrangements for their care or treatment and accommodation, and it is in their best interests.
If a person has a Lasting Power of Attorney or Deputy for Health and Welfare, then they can only be deprived of their liberty under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. If it’s authorised, a representative will be appointed to help the person exercise their rights.
The authorisation doesn’t give the home or hospital any special powers. It only makes what they are already doing lawful. Families should be consulted about any proposed changes in the person’s care plan.
There is an appeals process through the Court of Protection.
The law in action
The Supreme Court has recently handed down its judgment stating that human rights are universal and should be the same for everyone, whether or not they have an illness or disability.
We are all equal. We all have a right to liberty. This can only be restricted in certain circumstances, and as long as it is made lawful.
Safeguards should always be applied to all people who are subject to “continuous supervision and control and are not free to leave”. It doesn’t matter whether they object to the arrangements for their care or not.
In these circumstances, there should be an independent check on whether the arrangements are in the person’s best interests. We check there isn’t a better way to care for them that is less restrictive of their rights.