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Deprivation of liberty for carers, friends and family

Information for carers, family and friends

Some people cannot make their own decisions about their care and treatment because they do not have the mental capacity to do so. These people need protection to ensure that they do not suffer harm, especially in situations where giving the necessary care requires their personal freedoms to be restricted.

Having mental capacity means being able to understand and retain information in order to make a decision based on that information.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards protects people who lack mental capacity from having their liberties restricted when this is not in their best interests and to give people the right to challenge a decision.

Care homes and hospitals

If you think that someone is being cared for in a way that deprives them of their liberty, you have to apply to the council for the deprivation of liberty to be legally authorised.

The council is responsible for arranging for the person to be assessed before deciding whether or not to allow the restriction of liberty to take place. The necessary assessments will be carried out by two independent assessors. One assessor will be a doctor and the other will be a Best Interests Assessor. The Best Interests Assessor may be a social worker, a nurse, an occupational therapist or psychologist.

The best interests assessor aims to determine if:

  • the care or treatment is a deprivation of liberty
  • the care or treatment is in the person's best interests and necessary to prevent harm to them.

The Best Interests Assessor must be a person who is not involved in any planning or decision-making about the person's care or treatment.

We will consult relatives and other people close to the person and we may involve a special advocate in some cases.

If after the assessment, the deprivation of liberty is authorised for a limited time, we will reassess the situation to make sure the deprivation of liberty continues to be lawful.

We will appoint a suitable representative if the person is being deprived of their liberty and this is in their best interest. A representative can be a family member, friend or relative.

What can I do if I believe that someone is being deprived of their liberty?

If you believe that someone in a care home or hospital is being deprived of their liberty without authorisation, you may write to the hospital or care home about your concern and ask for an assessment.

If you have contacted the care home or hospital and did not get a satisfactory response, you may write to:

Safeguarding Adults and Mental Capacity Act team
Tel: 020 8547 2019
Fax: 020 8547 2277