Deprivation of Liberty

The Deprivation of Liberty safeguards are part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. They aim to make sure adults in care homes, hospitals or supported living are looked after in a way that does not inappropriately restrict their freedom.

The safeguards should ensure that a care home, hospital or supported living arrangement only deprives someone of their liberty in a safe and correct way, and is only done when it is in the best interests of the person and there is no other way to look after them. 

These safeguards protect the interests of extremely vulnerable people, and to:

  • ensure they can be given the care they need 
  • prevent decisions that deprive vulnerable people of their rights
  • provide safeguards for vulnerable people
  • provide them with rights of challenge against unlawful detention
  • avoid unnecessary bureaucracy.

Who it protects

The safeguards apply to anyone:

  • aged 18 and over
  • who are in hospitals, care homes or supported living
  • who suffers from a mental disorder or disability of the mind 
  • who do not have the mental capacity to make decisions about their care or treatment
  • for whom deprivation of liberty (within Article 5 of Human Rights) is considered, after an independent assessment, to be necessary in their best interests to protect them from harm.

A deprivation of liberty safeguard cannot be used if a person has the mental capacity to make decisions, so the person's capacity will be assessed as part of the process. The safeguards do not apply when someone is detained ('sectioned') under the Mental Health Act 1983.

Supported living

If a person is receiving care in supported living arranged by us, they are under continuous supervision and control and are not free to leave, and they do not have capacity to consent to these arrangements. The Court of Protection must authorise the deprivation of liberty. An application to the Court of Protection will be made by the individual’s Social Worker, with support from the Deprivation of Liberties team.

Hospitals and care homes

If you feel a person is being deprived of their liberties, you may discuss the issues directly with the hospital or care home. They will then look into the person's care or treatment to see if it requires changing, to ensure the person is not being deprived, or they will explain that the person is not being deprived of their liberty.

You may request by phone or in writing, that we review the person, to check if they are being deprived of their liberty.

The safeguards cover patients in hospitals, and people in care homes registered under the Care Standards Act, whether placed under public or private arrangements.

For professionals

If you would like to make an application to deprive liberty, or to speak with us about Deprivation of Liberty safeguards, please contact customer services or email