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Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

Mental Capacity Act (2005)

The Act governs the care and treatment of people aged 16 or over who lack capacity to consent to it. Everyone caring for an adult who lacks capacity to make specific decisions must comply with this Act when making decisions or acting for that person.


What is Capacity?

'Mental Capacity' means a person's ability to make their own choices and decisions. Under UK law, someone's capacity is judged according to the specific decisions to be made, so a person may have sufficient capacity to make simple decisions but not more complicated ones.

5 Statutory Principles of the Mental Capacity Act (2005)

When assessing capacity;

  1. Must assume to have capacity unless proved otherwise.
  2. All practicable steps must be taken to help someone make a decision before they can be assessed as lacking capacity.
  3. An unwise decision does not in itself indicate a lack of capacity.

When acting or making decisions on behalf of someone lacking capacity;

  1. Any act or decision must be in the person's best interest.
  2. Any act or decision should aim to be the least restrictive option.


A capacity assessment is decision specific and can be completed via ADTDashboard by any qualified member of Staff.


Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

DoLS is part of the MCA and is a legal framework for individuals who lack the capacity to consent to be accommodated in a hospital or care home in order to receive care and treatment. It is designed to allow Hospital or Care Homes to legally authorise restrictive care situations for those who cannot consent to them, providing the individual meets a the set criteria below known as the 'acid test' and is being 'deprived of their liberty'.

  • Is the patient over 18 years old?
  • Have they been assessed as lacking capacity?
  • Are they under continuous supervision and control?
  • Are they not free to leave?


The Trust is known as the 'Managing Authority' and can authorise an urgent DoLS for 7 days with an extension of a further day if approved by the Local Authority (Supervisory Body). 

How to apply

Staff must first complete the MCA via ADTDashboard. Once completed, staff will need to fully complete the DoLS application which is also on ADTDashboard.


Important Notes

  • DoLS are non-transferable - if a patient moves across sites a new DoLS is required
  • The DoLS application becomes active as soon as it is submitted. The Safeguarding Team will then update PENs with the expiry date.