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Community DoLS (c-DoLS)

Elderly woman walking outside in garden with the assistance of a nurse

Under Article 5 of the Human Rights Act, every person has the right to liberty and security. However, there are certain circumstances in which it may be necessary to deprive/restrict someone of their liberty in order to protect them should they not have the capacity to consent to their treatment or care at a specific placement.

In these situations a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) authorisation is applied for. This is the legal authorising framework that enables a Deprivation of Liberty if specific criteria are met, and if it is deemed proportionate and necessary to keep the relevant person safe from harm.

To be considered under this framework, the relevant person must be:

  • 18 years or older
  • Unable to consent to their treatment and care at the specific placement
  • Placement must be either a nursing/care home or hospital

Crucially, this process only covers care/nursing homes and hospitals. It does not cover other living arrangements such as supported living, shared lives homes, or when the relevant person is living in their own home.

In these circumstances a Community Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (c-DoLS) should be applied for through the Court of Protection, this process is known as ‘Re- X’

Examples of what restrictions or deprivations to liberty may include, locked doors, or prescribed sedative medication – or provision of continual 1-1 support. Importantly, it is the accumulation of restrictions in light of the Guzzardi principles that determines if a DoL is occurring. These restrictions may be the best viable option that is the least restrictive practice in action, being both necessary and proportionate, therefore must be assessed and authorised through a c-DoLS authorisation in order to safeguard the individual and ensure family members and care staff are protected under law.

Who is responsible for applying for a c-DoLS authorisation?

The responsible body should be informed and consulted as to whether c-DoLS would be appropriate, or if other options are available that would reduce the restrictions and deprivations put in place. In the first instance, the responsible body would be the Local Authority or the Local Health Board (Wales).

For more information, please refer to the central legislation of the Mental Capacity Act (2005). You can also consult the Law Society’s practical guide (2015) and Essex39’s Judicial Authorisation of DoL (2022).

How can c-DoLS be applied for?

This is applied for by the responsible body via the Court of Protection (CoP) who authorises all c-DoLS applications. Please note there are specific circumstances wherein the Deputy, if present, would be the responsible applicant to the CoP, if unclear please consult your local authority. Submissions to the CoP should include at the minimum, the following information:

  • Application form COP DOL11.
  • COP3.
  • A detailed draft of the Order sought.
  • Verification of the Relevant Person’s age.
  • Evidence of diagnosis by a suitable professional.
  • Care plans and all relevant documentation.
  • Clear, detailed evidence of restrictions and restraints in situ, and/or proposed, including alternatives trialled and how these are managed in the least restrictive and best practice manner,
  • Views, wishes, and values of the Relevant Person.
  • Statements from relevant parties involved.

Liberty is everyone’s responsibility

No one should ever be restricted more than is absolutely necessary. As such, it is absolutely vital that any form of deprivation made in a community setting be referred to the Court of Protection for a c-DoLS application. This will allow the situation to be assessed by an independent judge to safeguard the individual, enable monitoring and ensure that rights are protected. Further protection those providing care.

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