Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

How people in hospitals or care homes who lack the capacity to consent to certain treatments are protected.

What are the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)?

DoLS ensures people who cannot consent to their care arrangements in a care home or hospital are protected if those arrangements deprive them of their liberty. Arrangements are assessed to check they are necessary and in the person’s best interests. Representation and the right to challenge a deprivation are other safeguards that are part of DoLS.

A Supreme Court judgement in March 2014 made reference to the 'acid test' to see whether a person is being deprived of their liberty, which consisted of two questions:

  • Is the person subject to continuous supervision and control? and
  • Is the person free to leave? – with the focus, the Law Society advises us, being not on whether a person seems to be wanting to leave, but on how those who support them would react if they did want to leave.

Who should apply for a DoLS?

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) can only apply to people who are in a care home or hospital. This includes where there are plans to move a person to a care home or hospital where they may be deprived of their liberty. The care home or hospital is called the managing authority in the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.

Where a managing authority thinks it needs to deprive someone of their liberty they have to ask for this to be authorised by a supervisory body. They can do this up to 28 days in advance of when they plan to deprive the person of their liberty.

For care homes and hospitals the supervisory body is the local authority where the person is ordinarily resident. Usually this will be the local authority where the care home is located unless the person is funded by a different local authority.

How to make a DoLS application

Our Adult Care Portal gives you the ability to send a DoLS application directly to the DoLS team.

It’s a quick, easy, and secure way to request a:

  • DoLS standard and urgent authorisation
  • further standard authorisation
  • DoLS suspension
  • DoLS review

If you're using the portal for the first time, you will be asked to create an account.

Submit a DoLS form

Further information and help:

If you need any more guidance contact us:

See a full list of DOLS forms.

To support the completion of forms, please read the guidance to the DoLS forms. Managing authorities (care homes and hospitals) should consult this guidance, which will assist them when making a DoLS referral.

Where managing authorities believe that the requirements for a DoLS application are met, they should accurately complete the DoLS Form 1 found here (Standard Request and Urgent Authorisation).

For full guidance on the DoLS, managing authorities should refer to the DoLS Code of Practice (PDF, 474KB). 

We have brought together some examples of best practice (PDF, 324KB) to demonstrate how DOLS can have an impact on the customer they were designed to protect.