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The DoLS Process

Scope of this chapter

Article 5 of the Human Rights Act 1998 states that “everyone has the right to liberty and security of person and no one shall be deprived of his or her liberty unless in accordance with a procedure prescribed in law”.

Deprivations of liberty that have not been authorised by either the local authority (through the DoLS framework) or the Court of Protection are unlawful and a breach of a person’s basic human rights.

This chapter explains the DoLS application and authorisation process.

Note: This chapter only applies to care home services. This is because the DoLS framework does not apply in any other care settings. For guidance on responding to a deprivation of liberty in other settings, see: Responding to a Deprivation of Liberty.

Relevant Regulations

Related Chapters and Guidance

Amendment

In June 2023, a new Section 7, The Future of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards were added. At the same time, the chapter The Liberty Protection Safeguards Procedure was deleted.

June 14, 2023

Relevant person: This is the name given to the person that is going to be deprived of their liberty.

Managing authority: This is the name given to the registered manager at the care home that is making the application.

Supervisory body: This is the local authority that receives the application and decides whether a standard authorisation should be granted.

Standard authorisation:  A standard authorisation is an authorisation granted after the DoLS process has been completed.

Urgent authorisation: An urgent authorisation is an authorisation that the managing authority can grant to itself. It can only be used as an interim short-term measure whilst the DoLS process is taking place.

This section applies when a relevant person does not already have a standard authorisation. If they have a standard authorisation that is coming to an end, see Section 5, Further standard authorisation requests for the same person below.

Form 1: Standard Request, Urgent Authorisation and Extension to Urgent

Please note, before downloading the form from the government website, check whether your local authority has its own version and application process that they require you to use.

If using the government form, the sections of the form relating to standard authorisations should be completed. This is pages 1-5.

There is guidance to support you to understand and complete each section of the form:

The Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards: Guidance to the Forms

The relevant person must not be deprived of their liberty until the standard authorisation has been granted. If there are exceptional circumstances and this is not going to be possible, an urgent authorisation must be used at the same time as submitting the request for a standard authorisation (see Section 3, Urgent authorisation below).

The form must be submitted to the supervisory body in line with local processes. 

The supervisory body should confirm receipt of the application. If no such confirmation is received within 24 hours, the managing authority should contact them to make sure the application has been received.

The supervisory body is responsible for completing the DoLS process and deciding whether a standard authorisation should be granted.

The supervisory body has a maximum of 21 days in which to complete the process and grant the standard authorisation.

Standard authorisations must be provided to the managing authority as soon as possible. The record should be kept on the relevant person’s file.

If the supervisory body does not grant a standard authorisation, the deprivation of liberty must end with immediate effect as it is unlawful. If this happens, the supervisory body will explain why they have not granted the standard authorisation, and be able to offer advice about steps the service should take to provide less restrictive support.

The supervisory body will provide a copy of the standard authorisation to the relevant person.

It is the responsibility of the managing authority to take reasonable steps to ensure that the relevant person understands the following:

  1. The effect of the authorisation;
  2. Their right to make an application to the court to review the authorisation;
  3. Their right to request the supervisory body reviews the authorisation;
  4. Their right to a section 39D IMCA and how to have one appointed.

A record should be made of steps taken to help the relevant person understand the above, and any views they have expressed about requesting a review or a section 39D IMCA.

Section 39D IMCA

A section 39D IMCA is an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate appointed under section 39D of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The purpose of a section 39D IMCA is to make a request to either the court or supervisory body for a review of a standard authorisation when the relevant person wants to do this but does not feel able to do this without support.

If a family member or friend is acting as the Relevant Person’s Representative (see below), they can also request the support of a section 39D IMCA if they want to request a review of the authorisation.

If a relevant person requests a section 39D IMCA, the managing authority must let the supervisory body know so that arrangements can be made.

In some circumstances, the supervisory body will automatically appoint a section 39D IMCA, even if the relevant person has not requested it.

As soon as possible after granting a standard authorisation, the supervisory body must appoint a Relevant Person’s Representative (RPR).

The RPR must see (or contact) the relevant person frequently enough to be able to represent and support them in all matters relating to, or in connection with the deprivation of liberty. For example, changes to care or support plans, reviews and conversations about how care and support is provided.

The RPR must also be able to support the relevant person to request the authorisation is reviewed, if they ask to do this or if they show signs that they are not happy with the arrangements. This can include asking the supervisory body to appoint a section 39D IMCA.

Often, the supervisory body will appoint a family member or friend as the RPR. Sometimes they will appoint a solicitor or other professional, known as a Paid Relevant Person’s Representative.

It is the responsibility of the supervisory body to make sure that the RPR understands and is supported to fulfil the role.

If the managing authority is concerned that an RPR is not fulfilling the role, they should let the supervisory body know. For example, if they hardly ever contact the relevant person or have little interest in how their care and support is provided. 

Further information about the DoLS process of the supervisory body, the role of IMCA’s and the RPR role see: The Mental Capacity Act 2005 Resource and Practice Toolkit.

Note: Urgent authorisations should only ever be used when there is absolutely no other option but to deprive a relevant person of their liberty in the period that a standard authorisation process is taking place.

Note: Urgent authorisations can only be used at the same time as an initial standard authorisation is requested. They cannot be used for further standard authorisation requests, which should be made in a timely way (see Section 5, Further standard authorisation requests for the same person below).

Form 1: Standard Request, Urgent Authorisation and Extension to Urgent

Please note, before downloading the form from the government website, check whether your local authority has its own version and application process that they require you to use. Some local authorities have created a specific form for an urgent authorisation.

If using the government form, the sections of the form relating to standard authorisations and urgent authorisations should be completed. This is pages 1-6.

There is guidance to support you to understand and complete each section of the form:

The Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards: Guidance to the Forms

If the supervisory body uses a separate form for urgent authorisations, the form must be completed and submitted to the supervisory body in line with local processes.

An urgent authorisation comes into force as soon as the relevant section of the form is completed and signed by the managing authority.

No confirmation or authority is needed from the supervisory body.

A copy of the urgent authorisation must be kept on the relevant person’s file.

An urgent authorisation expires automatically 7 days after it came into force. After this period, any deprivation of liberty taking place is unlawful again.

If there are exceptional circumstances and the managing authority anticipates that the DoLS process will not be completed within that 7-day period, an urgent authorisation extension should be requested in advance, at the same time as the urgent authorisation is used (see Section 4, Urgent authorisation extension request. below).

If needed, an urgent authorisation extension request should be made at the same time that an urgent authorisation is used.

Form 1: Standard Request, Urgent Authorisation and Extension to Urgent 

Please note, before downloading the form from the government website, check whether your local authority has its own version and application process that they require you to use. Some local authorities have created a specific form for an urgent authorisation extension request.

If using the government form, the whole form must be completed. This includes the sections relating to standard authorisations, urgent authorisations and urgent authorisation extensions.

There is guidance to support you to understand and complete each section of the form:

The Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards: Guidance to the Forms

If the supervisory body uses a separate form for authorisation extension requests, the form must be completed and submitted to the supervisory body in line with local processes.

An urgent authorisation extension only comes into force if it is approved by the supervisory body. The managing authority cannot authorise an urgent extension in the same way as they did for the initial urgent authorisation.

The supervisory body will only agree to the extension if they are satisfied that the circumstances are exceptional.

If agreed by the supervisory body, the extension will come into force on the day that the initial urgent authorisation ends.

A copy of the urgent authorisation extension must be kept on the relevant person’s file.

The extension will expire automatically 7 days after it comes into force. After this period, any deprivation of liberty taking place is unlawful again.

Note: No further urgent authorisation extensions can be requested or granted.

Standard authorisations are time-limited to a maximum of 12 months. They cannot be extended. If there is absolutely no other alternative than to continue depriving someone of their liberty beyond that time, another standard authorisation process must take place.

Note: Requests for further authorisation should be made 28 days in advance of the date that the current standard authorisation is set to expire. This will help avoid any unnecessary and unlawful periods of deprivation.

Form 2: Request for a Further Standard Authorisation

Please note, before downloading the form from the government website, check whether your local authority has its own version and application process that they require you to use. Some local authorities have created a specific form for further standard authorisation request.

The government form is very short and easy to complete. If needed, there is guidance available:

The Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards: Guidance to the Forms

When completed, the form must be submitted to the supervisory body in line with local processes.

The supervisory body should confirm receipt of the request. If no such confirmation is received within 24 hours, the managing authority should contact them to make sure the request has been received.

The supervisory body will process the request in the same way as they process an initial standard authorisation application. They will, however, have regard for previous assessments and use them if they are still reflective of current circumstances.

Under Regulation 18 of the Care Quality Commission (Registration) Regulations 2009, the registered person must ensure that the CQC is notified when: 

  1. An authorisation request is made;
  2. An urgent authorisation under DoLS is used;
  3. An authorisation has been granted;
  4. An authorisation has been declined.

For further guidance see:  

Regulation 18: Notification of other incidents

On the 16th May 2019, the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019 became an Act of Parliament (Law). This included a plan to implement a new authorisation framework known as Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS).

However, the Government announced on 5 April 2023 that it would delay the implementation of the Liberty Protection Safeguards until "beyond the life of this Parliament".

The Government explained that this was due to prioritising its work on the reform of adult social care. They plan to publish a summary of the responses to the LPS consultation that was carried out in due course.  It is not yet known whether this will result in any updates to the Procedures or Codes of Practice.

This means that, for the foreseeable future, the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards or, in cases where the DoLS do not apply, a Court Order remain the only two legal instruments available to authorise a deprivation of liberty.

Last Updated: June 14, 2023

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